Rudy Kurniawan – the world’s most famous rotten grape – was released from a Texas jail last week.
Rudy Kurniawan was released from a Texas prison last Friday 6 November 2020.
The wine cheat is now in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
On 18 December 2013, a New York court found Kurniawan guilty of fraud and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. Kurniawan was released early on good behaviour.
It is estimated that between 2003 and 2006, US$35 million worth of fake wine came from the cellar of Chinese Indonesian Rudy Kurniawan (birth name HUANG Zhen Wang).
Spectacularly, on 25 April 2008, half-way through an auction at Cru restaurant in New York, John Kapon, president of auction house Acker Merrill & Condit, had to withdraw 22 lots of Domaine Ponsot wines. They were estimated to be worth around US$600,000.
The lots included Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru 1945 to 1971. The dramatic intervention was made by none other than Laurent Ponsot, then head of the domaine, who went on to inform that his family had never made a Clos Saint-Denis before 1982.
So much for Acker Merrill & Condit being an expert in Burgundy wine.
In 2016, a documentary surrounding the shenanigans of Rudy Kurniawan was released called Sour Grapes. Rotten Grapes would be a more accurate title.
It is estimated that 10,000 bottles of fake wine made by Kurniawan are still in collections.
In its judgement in 2013, the New York court also ordered the wine cheat to pay US$28.4 million in restitution to victims. Kurniawan was also to forfeit US$20 million to the US Government of which only US$2 million is believed to have been paid.
In 2019, the US Government seized US$2.1 million worth of wine that Kurniawan had stored at the Wine Cellarage in New York.
Rudy Kurniawan is believed to still have stashes of wine stored away when he went to prison.
The US government is not the only one looking for Kurniawan’s assets.
Billionaire wine collector Bill Koch is owed US$3 million by the Indonesian from a settlement in a lawsuit.
Bill Koch is a neighbour, friend and supporter of Donald Trump, the political cheat.