An Atlanta collector with a cellar full of fine wines claims that his most prized -- and most expensive -- acquisition is a counterfeit. Julian LeCraw Jr. says in a federal lawsuit that he paid $91,000 for the 1787 Chateau d'Yquem, bottled before George Washington became president. At the time of the purchase, 2006, that was the single highest price ever paid for a bottle of white wine.
The London broker of rare wines who sold LeCraw the bottle -- as well as other vintages by Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Margaux -- personally delivered the d'Yquem to Atlanta, according to press reports at the time. LeCraw recalls having friends and other collectors over to view the prized bottle.
But a visiting dealer last year, having seen the rare vintages in LeCraw's cellar, suggested that the collector take a much closer look at the provenance of the wines. Whereupon he hired an authentication expert from California and even sent a delegation to France to present the wines at the chateaux where they were supposedly bottled hundreds of years ago. The results of the investigation: as a director at Chateau Lafite put it: "Faux, faux, faux," French for fake, fake, fake.
The London dealer insists that the wines are all genuine. LeCraw is seeking $25 million in damages.
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