On Thursday, August 7, 2014, Rudy Kurniawan was sentenced to ten years in prison for selling counterfeit wine to rich people, who did not notice that the wine inside the fancy bottles they bought was fake because they did not buy it to drink it, they bought it to sell it to other richer people for even more money.
Total damage was estimated to be in the neighborhood of $30 million.
Lesson learned, kiddo? Do not fuck with rich people’s money.
I say that while pointing out another high-profile 2014 case involving rich people; namely, affluenza-victim Ethan Couch, a rich Texas teen who got plastered on stolen (but non-counterfeit) Wal-Mart beer and—sans driver’s license—drove a Ford 350 into a stalled vehicle, which was rammed into another vehicle, which crashed into another vehicle, and when the dust had cleared, four people lay dead, none of them named Couch.
For that lapse of judgment, the poor little rich boy also received ten years…
Rudy, Rudy, Rudy…
Well, nobody is shedding tears for Kurniawan, not even those close enough to him to be able to pronounce his name, not even his mother, who used to be a rich person until Rudy spent $40 million of the family shekels on wine. That might have been okay, except that rather than enjoy it, he figured out how to make fake labels, fake cork stamps and fake bottle waxings and now owes $30 million in restitution on top of the $20 million the feds seized. You don’t need to be an investment banker to figure out that even if some dolt buys Rudy’s cellar at face value, this leaves the Kurniawan klan with a net loss of ten mil. Ouch; I’m sure Mrs. K. hasn’t been so broody or moody since Rudy made a doody inside his prep school suity.
His dense defense, by the way, begged for leniency because he ripped off rich people instead of poor people. Talk about a lawyer who just… doesn’t… get it.
Among the wealthy investors scammed by the 37-year-old Indonesian-Chinese con man was billionaire William Koch—the non-political Koch Brother—who admits to having been hoodwinked for $2.1 million in fake Kurniawan wine, including a bogus 1949 Chateau Lafleur and an ersatz 1947 Chateau Petrus.
Since then, smarting from his dumbness, Koch claims to have spent $25 million investigating fraudulent wine.
$25 million? You don’t need to be a commodity trader to figure out that even if he is reimbursed, this leaves Koch with a net loss of $22.9 million.
Calling Koch a sucker would be too obvious?
An open letter to rich people:
Due diligence is worth its weight in Clos St. Denis Cuvée Très Vieilles Vignes, especially from vintages where they actually produced it.
Love, Your Life Coach; Hell, Norway.
Among Rudy’s more infamous noose-tightening screw-ups included trying to auction bottles of Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis from the 1940s when the winery didn’t start producing from the appellation until 1982. He did it again in 2006, consigning six bottles of Georges Roumier Bonnes Mares 1923, a year before the Chambolle-Musigny domaine was founded.
Adding insult to injury, he consigned so many cases of diddled Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (unbeknownst to the diddlees) that he became known as ‘Dr. Conti’.
‘Pruno, Here I Come…’
All of which resulted in snooty Rudy consigning his beauty bootie to the penal tutti-frutti, where his first rudy awakening will be to discover that, whereas prisons have an Aryan Nation clique, a Black Power crew, a La Raza and even a Vietnamese syndicate, there are, alas, no Indonesian Chinese gangs he can join.
However, there is light at the end of his decade-long, protection-free tunnel. He may find that his mastery of mixology can be useful in concocting that most sought after of hoosegow hootch, pruno, generally made with stuff you find laying around the commissary—ketchup, candy and fruit cocktail juice fermented with the yeast from squished-up pieces of bread.
Since, as Dr. Conti will no doubt discover, this beverage is as good as Blue Chip stocks in the gen pop black market, his ability to fake real pruno should make him as valued a prison commodity as Martha Stewart was with her do-it-yourself cell phones made from Q-Tips, twist-ties and those prison-issued maximum security doilies that Tea Party conservatives are always bitching about.
Since a standard substitute used in counterfeit pruno is botulism-flavored vomit, I have no doubt that anyone with Kurniawan’s think-on-his-feet inventiveness will have no problem finding a niche in the ol’ bastille.
Unless, of course, his breeding gets the better of him and he accidentally labels it ‘Pruneaux’.