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Prolific Wine Counterfeiter Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

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Photo: AFP

Rudy Kurniawan, a man found guilty of selling millions of dollars of fake wine to his wealthy clients, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Kurniawan is supposedly behind the "biggest wine hoax in history." The New York Times writes that he sold customers "purportedly rare and sought-after wines that were actually old bottles of wine mixed together, complete with fake labels." He was apparently able to make these wine enthusiasts — such as billionaire Bill Koch who claims he lost $4.5 million on 420 bottles of fake wine — believe his bottles were real and rare because of "the reputation of his encyclopedic cellar and his finely tuned palate."

On top of his prison time, Kurniawan must pay restitution of more than $28 million, and pay a fine of $20 million. He was also found guilty of fraud for "securing a $3 million loan using his wine and art collections as collateral when they had already been pledged as collateral for a different loan." Kurniawan faces deportation to Indonesia when he is released from prison. He is the first person in the U.S. to ever be tried for selling fake wine and now he is the first person to be convicted and sentenced for doing so.

The trial took place last year and top French wine makers served as witnesses for the prosecution. Kurniawan could have received a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. His story will be the subject of a feature length documentary that is already in production and should be completed by the end of this year.

· Wine Dealer Sentenced to 10 Years for Defrauding Clients [NYT]
· All Rudy Kurniawan Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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