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New York Federal Court Dismisses Koch Wine Fraud Suit Against Christie’s

A New York District Court Judge, Honorable Barbara Jones, granted the motion to dismiss of the auction house Christie’s and dismissed the suit against the acclaimed auction house. William Koch, billionaire and avid wine collector, filed suit against the auction house last year claiming Christie’s “induced” him to buy a fraudulent bottle of 1870 Lafite wine at an auction for $4,200. (See Christie’s Wines Dismissal of Koch’s Counterfeit Wine Suit.) In his complaint, Koch claimed fraud, civil conspiracy, and aiding and abetting — alleging that the London-based auction house has sold counterfeit wine “for many years.” (Id.) Judge Jones, in her ruling, reasoned that while Koch alleged he was injured due to misrepresentation made on behalf of the auction house, Koch placed bids on the wine while he knew it was fake, and could thus not recover for his injury. (See Judge Dismisses Koch Suit Against Christie’s.) “Here the cause of his injuries was not Christie’s’ misleading statements but plaintiff’s desire to gather evidence against Christie’s.” (See Christie’s Wines Dismissal of Koch’s Counterfeit Wine Suit, supra.)

Koch has subsequently claimed that he has been sold counterfeit wine, including bottles produced by Thomas Jefferson that were marked, “Th.J.” Although Koch did not claim in this lawsuit that Christie’s sold fraudulent Thomas Jefferson wine, “he alleged that Christie’s ‘had previously auctioned other Th.J. bottles’ owned by German wine dealer and former pop music manager Hardy Rodenstock. Koch claimed he was ‘induced’ into buying them from Rodenstock because Christie’s had described the wines ‘positively’ in auction catalogues when the wines were sold in the 1980s.” (Read more on the German dealer and the process of inspections at Christie’s Wines Dismissal of Koch’s Counterfeit Wine Suit.)

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice.

Lindsey A. Zahn


Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • kc March 21, 2011, 5:44 PM

    do you have copy of decision..its not on westlaw? thanks

  • Lindsey A. Zahn Lindsey A. Zahn March 21, 2011, 6:59 PM

    No, I haven’t come across a full copy of the opinion yet.

  • kc March 21, 2011, 7:03 PM

    when you do, let me know … thanks kcb

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