My Blog: Tang Refutes Fake Wine Allegations

March 20th, 2013

Henry Tang, arguably the greatest wine collector in the world and former Hong Kong politician, believes that all his wines sold in a March 14 and 15 Christie’s auction were authentic, following allegations on the internet and press about fake bottles, including a jeroboam of 1971 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tache.

“I have authenticated the provenance of all the lots in question,” Tang wrote in an email today. He was releasing an official statement and awaiting similar statements from Christie’s as well as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the famous Burgundian wine estate.

Some of the strongest allegations originated in a wine forum based in the United States – wineberserkers.com – where members pointed to three lots in the Hong Kong wine auction: three bottles of 1959 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti, a methuselah of 1971 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tache, and a case of 12 bottles of 1978 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet.

The allegations were posted under a heading or thread on the website entitled “Rudy Kurniawan & Global Wine Auction Fraud Thread (Merged).”  Some members seemed to assert that the wines came from the cellars of the federally indicted Rudy Kurniawan, who is alleged to have sold millions of dollars of fake wine over the last decade.

“These allegations are more than ludicrous considering that Rudy Kurniawan was a teenager back in the early 1990s,” pointed out Tang, who suggested that he purchased the wines during that period. “These wines were bought more than 20 years ago.”

Tang is a personal friend and an adamant collector and drinker of many rare bottles of Burgundy. He is a student of France’s prestigious wine region and has created a Burgundy obsession with Hong Kong’s wine collecting elite. See my blog from March 8 on him.

He sold part of his cellar last weekend in the Christie’s auction, which totaled $6.2 million in sales. Tang seemed shocked by the recent allegations that some of his collection was fake, calling the whole thing “malicious.”

An expected statement from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti itself should provide helpful clarification of the matter.

The whole story continues to spotlight a growing sensitivity to fake rare wines in the marketplace, and how wine merchants and auctioneers need to do more due diligence to protect consumers, collectors, and investors – especially with the high prices being paid for some wines.

Photo courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2011

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