King Lear: “Callest thou me a fool, fool?”
Fool: “Indeed Sire, all thine other titles thou hast given away. That, thou was born with.”
I almost split my sides reading this in Decanter this morning,
Billionaire wine collector sheds tears over fake wine
- Tuesday 17 June 2014
Koch (pictured) said in an interview with the ABC News 20/20programme that he has so far spent $25m to bring fine wine counterfeiters to justice, and has no qualms about spending more.
‘I cannot stand to be cheated,’ said the billionaire collector who recently helped to convict wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan by giving evidence at the self-styled Dr Conti‘s trial in December last year.
Those close to Koch, who is a ‘western’ films fanatic and has an estimated fortune of $3.8bn, have always said that his mission to root out counterfeits of rare and fake wines was a personal issue that had little relation to money.
‘I want someone to know: if they sell me a fake, I’m coming after ’em, no matter how much it costs,’ Koch said in the ABC interview.
When Koch was asked whether he thought a wine could ever be worth tens of thousands of pounds, he became very emotional and had to choke back tears during his answer.
‘The art, the craftmanship that goes into it, is worth that,’ he said.
During the Kurniawan trial, Koch said he believed 443 bottles in his cellar were counterfeit, for which he estimated that he paid around $4.4m. He told jurors he was yet to finish examining his entire collection.
Most recently, Koch saw his damages award following his court victory against wine collector Eric Greenberg reduced from an initial £12m to just $711,622, on the grounds that the initial sum was out of context with the case.
Koch still has legal action pending against Kurniawan, who is currently awaiting sentencing.
Well, turn me around and well, arm…enough of that. But I am sorry, this is a ferociously stupid man. As is Julian Lecraw Jr. and all their ilk who “collect” wine. But collect it to what purpose?
The idea of wine collecting just to buy and possess millions of dollars worth of old bottles is ludicrous. Will a bottle of Yquem of 1787 acquired for $90k mprove with age (sic), will it increase in value, and more importantly perhaps, what is the probability of its not being a fake (slim I might suggest). The answer to all three is negative.
So Mr Koch and his friends fill their cellars pointlessly with glass bottles filled with old brown liquids. Unless opened, and tasted and consumed, these wines lose any intrinsic value and are essentially just empty vessels.
I have previously written about those avid Burgundy aficionados (loud cough) who pay enormous sums for the rarest of crus and were so duped by Dr Conti. I may well consider them idiots, but in their defense, you might argue that they at least drink the stuff.
And so now, Koch, Lecrew and so many others are crying about the fakes they bought (or didn’t); they want restitution for the harm done to them, for the fakers to be punished. Well I can run with that last but what of due diligence, what of caveat emptor? It is hardly as if wine fakery is new – what of Bordeaux shenanigans in the seventies, of Austria’s glycol scandals, or more pertinently Hardie Rodenstock’s alleged “bêtises“. These are hardly news, it’s not like Rudy and his like just crawled out from under a stone.
No, it is a question of egos, of more money than sense. But our Bill is a sensitive soul, as he choked on his tears, he exclaimed,
“‘The art, the craftmanship that goes into it, is worth that.”
No it isn’t you freakin’ idiot. Great wine is an agricultural product produced with skill, knowledge and sometimes love. It can be greater or lesser, but it isn’t art.
Picasso produced art; and you can hang one on a wall, leave it there and in all probability it will accrue tremendous financial gain if sold on. It is also pretty easy to prove its provenance. It will also be very nice to look at.
Put an expensive bottle of wine in your cellar and it will age, grow old and ultimately quit the mortal coil. It is a living thing whose worth is only reflected in its being drunk. Wine is an épicurean joy; creating a great cellar is an intellectual task perhaps, but ultimately the content is there to be drunk, ideally in a planned and meaningful way. Anything else is just showing off, and very, very immature.
So grow up Bill. You fucked up and got duped. It’s fine that you seek retribution, to extinguish fakery at its source. But be honest Bill, you lost face and where made to luck like a fool. In a world where its important show how well-hung you are it must have been hard.
“To say to some means nothing, others leaves nothing to be said” Philip Larkin