A California wine collector allegedly played off his respected reputation to pawn off cheap imitations of expensive products on unsuspecting customers. Feds arrested the collector, accusing him of selling fake vintages at high-profile auction houses.
According to The Wall Street Journal, a billionaire helped tip off authorities to the alleged fraud when he noticed something funny about a label on a bottle, as well as details about the wine, that he bought from the collector. The fraud claim led to a rush of others who believed they were similarly burned.
The suspect raked in $35 million in 2006 by serving part of his collection. His antics raised eyebrows in 2008 when he was set to auction off wines that were supposed to have been bottled between 1945 and1971, but had to back off when someone at the vineyard the wine was supposed to have come from revealed that it didn’t start bottling wine until 1982. The suspect is believed to be buried in debt, so the burned collectors presumably may not be able to collect their wasted funds.
File this one under “One Percenter Problems.”
Rare-Wine Dealer Accused of Fraud [The Wall Street Journal]