[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
67°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 18
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]


Commentary by Carl Kanowsky, Esq.
| Friday, Oct 11, 2013
Carl Kanowsky, Esq.

Carl Kanowsky, Esq.

Pity poor Bill Koch.  He’s not the world’s wealthiest man.  He’s only the 92nd richest American, and just No. 329 in the world, worth a measly $4 billion.  Boy, I don’t know how he gets up in the morning.

Adding insult to injury, he bought 2,669 bottles of wine at one auction in 2005 for almost $4 million and then learned that about 24 of the bottles, or 0.9 percent of them, were likely fakes.  Might as well just throw everything down the drain, right?

Well, Bill had had enough. He had already paid $500,000 for four bottles of Bordeaux allegedly owned by Thomas Jefferson. Those were discovered to be fraudulent when experts determined the etchings on the bottles had been made with an electric tool. That would have been quite a trick by our third president (unless, of course, Ben Franklin stopped by Monticello with a kite and a key).

So Bill decided to begin a one-man campaign against phony wines. His first step was to sue Eric Greenberg, the source of the wine sold at the auction, as well as Zachy’s Wine Auction, the auction house that conducted the sale.

Zachy’s initially tried to defend what had happened by saying its auction catalog warned buyers that the wine was sold “as is.” The judge rightfully threw out that defense. You see, there was testimony that Zachy’s knew or should at least have suspected that some of Greenberg’s wines weren’t a whole lot more than Welch’s grape juice.

Greenberg testified he had told the head of Zachy’s there might be some problems with some of the wine Zachy’s was going to auction off. According to Wine Spectator magazine, Greenberg said on the witness stand: “I told them (Zachy’s) I had fake wines in my cellar.” Despite this advance knowledge, Zachy’s sold a whopping 17,000 bottles from Greenberg’s cellar.

This included a magnum (that’s a 1.5-liter-size bottle, equal to two regular bottles of wine) labeled as a 1921 Petrus. Now, Petrus is one of those wines that only an elite few have ever tasted, mainly because it is so damnably expensive. A magnum of the 1947 Petrus can be yours for a mere $30,000 – not including tax, and you’d have to go to London to get it.

Bill bought the ’21 Petrus, relying on both Zachy’s and Greenberg (another gazillionaire, who made his money through the Internet). After paying $29,000, Bill called Eric to find out the provenance of the bottle. Eric wasn’t sure but said it might have come from Royal Wine Co.

You might say Koch was dismayed when Eric then told him Royal had sold Eric “a tremendous amount of fake wine.” Oh, so now you say something.

But things finally turned around for our good friend, Bill. Eric claimed at trial that he didn’t know there were any issues with his bottles.\

I guess the jury didn’t find that very credible when they heard that before the auction, Eric got Royal to pay him back for many bottles that he asserted were fake; and Eric’s house manager (you have one of those, don’t you?) asked if Eric wanted to throw out the fake wine.

Eric’s response, according to Wine Spectator, was, “What they did to me, I’ll do to someone else.”

Eric’s mistake was not figuring that the “someone else” would be someone wealthier than him and willing to spend millions to prove a point. That miscalculation wound up costing Eric $12,380,000 in April of this year.

The true tragedy in this tale is that the two sides are estimated to have spent a combined $15 million on attorneys’ fees and didn’t use any lawyers from Santa Clarita. Heck, I would have done it for a mere $6 million.

 

Carl Kanowsky of Kanowsky & Associates is an attorney in the Santa Clarita Valley. He may be reached by email at cjk@kanowskylaw.com. Nothing contained herein shall be or is intended to be construed as providing legal advice.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017
It was 10 years ago this fall semester that we opened the Canyon Country Campus on Sierra Highway. We are celebrating a decade of academic excellence and community impact. What a difference a decade makes.
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017
The Trump budget proposes decreasing funding to the Department of the Interior by $1.5 billion. Trump is calling for more drilling in national parks and monuments. He plans to open BLM land to drilling and fracking.
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017
We are quickly approaching the culmination of the year-long celebration of our city’s 30th anniversary. It is truly a time to celebrate all the hard work, dedication, perseverance and passion that took our City from being a tiny portion of Los Angeles County to the thriving third largest city in the county.
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017
This month marks an exciting milestone for the premier arts and entertainment district in Santa Clarita.
Friday, Sep 29, 2017
Kaepernick has never spoken of personally experiencing any negative interactions with the police. Appearances are he had a pretty nice life provided by people with white skin while living in a country that presented him with obvious, mind-boggling opportunities.
Thursday, Sep 28, 2017
Despite its close proximity to the city of Barstow, Rainbow Basin remains virtually undiscovered. It is well worth a visit. Visitors to the area can find scenic opportunities for hiking, rock scrambling, camping, photography, sightseeing and horseback riding.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The fall 2017 Star Party at College of the Canyons' Canyon Country campus on Friday, Oct. 27 will focus on the pathways to space exploration that exist for star-gazers who are captivated by the many mysteries of the universe.
Oct. 27: Star Party at COC Canyon Country Campus
Determined to transform the deeply troubled Los Angeles County Probation Department, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to consider an independent entity that would provide guidance, oversight and accountability.
Supes Consider Entity for Probation Reform Guidance, Oversight, Accountability
Alexia Cina of Canyon Country was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of a mother of six children in a head-on crash on Golden Valley Road on October 6.
Woman Charged with Manslaughter, DUI in Death of Mother of 6
The 22nd annual Santa Clarita Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, November 5, 2017, following the Santa Clarita Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday.
Nov. 4-5: 22nd Annual Santa Clarita Marathon Events
The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped to a 3-0 lead in the best of seven series following Tuesday night’s 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field.
Dodgers Out to Sweep Cubs in NLCS Game 4
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's 2017 Medal of Valor Awards were held Tuesday in Los Angeles, and SCV Sheriff's Station Deputy Dmitry Barkon was recognized for his bravery and heroic actions.
SCV Sheriff’s Deputy Dmitry Barkon Earns Medal of Valor
Now is the time for all good college-bound high school seniors to join the 'Race to Submit' applications for FAFSA and CADAA grants to help cover college expenses.
High School Seniors: ‘Race to Submit’ is on for 2018 College Financial Aid
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies interrupted a smash-and-grab burglary on The Old Road early Friday morning, arresting one suspect and seeking two alleged accomplices still at large.
SCV Deputies Catch Window-Smash Burglars in the Act
Pukúu Cultural Community Services, founded in 1971 by members of the local Fernandeno-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, will host its 13th Annual scholarship gala fundraiser, "Night with the Stars," in Sunland on Saturday, November 4 starting at 6 p.m.
Nov. 4: Local Tribe Honors 3, Celebrates Native American Heritage Month
California's Attorney General today filed a motion to compel the federal government to follow the law and pay the subsidies that millions of Americans rely on to lower the out-of-pocket costs in their insurance plans.
California AG Fights to Keep ACA Cost-Sharing Subsidies
Santa Clarita business owners are encouraged to take the city's broadband feasibility study online survey and participate in the next phase of the study -- in-person focus groups scheduled for October 30.
Oct. 30: Focus Groups in Next Phase of City Broadband Study
The $17 billion "California WaterFix" project reached a tipping point Tuesday after a Silicon Valley water district voted against Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach in favor of a less expensive, scaled-back version.
Silicon Valley Water Board Wants Delta Tunnels Downsized
Maryama, a band led by CalArts alumna Maryama Mirbagheri (Music MFA 17), was recently nominated for a 2017 Hollywood Music in Media Award in the World Music category.
Maryama Nominated for Hollywood Music in Media Award
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, in response to President Trump’s recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has declared Oct. 16-20 "DACA Advocacy Week."
California Community Colleges Ramp Up DACA Advocacy
COC and the Hart District will host the 2017 College & Career Fair in the college’s Honor Grove on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Oct. 21: 2017 College and Career Fair at COC
The College of the Canyons Art Gallery will showcase the work of Los Angeles-based painter Sheldon Figoten in a one-person exhibition of new paintings, “Light Fields,” opening Saturday, Oct. 28.
Oct. 28: Sheldon Figoten ‘Light Fields’ at COC Art Gallery
The Santa Clarita Artists Association held its 28th Annual Art Classic fine arts competition at William S. Hart Park's Hart Hall in Newhall on October 14.
Santa Clarita Artists Association Names Winners in 2017 Art Classic
Here is the Castaic-Val Verde Crime Information & Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for September 25 through October 1.
Crime Blotter: Arson, Burglary, Theft in Castaic-Val Verde
California and New Mexico launched a fresh challenge Tuesday against the Trump administration’s repeal of higher royalty payments to states for oil, gas and coal leases on public lands.
California, New Mexico Challenge White House Favors to Oil, Gas, Coal
Here is the Stevenson Ranch (Zone 3) Crime Information & Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for the week of October 2 to October 8.
Crime Blotter: Burglary, Petty Theft in Stevenson Ranch
Here is the Canyon Country East (Zone 8) Crime Information and Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for September 24 through October 8, 2017.
Crime Blotter: Vehicle Theft, Burglary in Canyon Country East
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]
CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, opens Fantômas: Revenge of the Image at Wuzhen Theatre Festival in Wuzhen, China, on Oct. 19.
Oct. 19: CalArts’ Fantomas: Revenge of the Image Premieres in China
The CSUN women's golf team fired rounds of 306-309 and is in fourth place, just eight shots off the pace at the Pat Lesser Harbottle Seattle University Invitational at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Tacoma, WA.
CSUN Just Eight Shots Off Pace At Washington Invitational
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, Recreation, Community Services, Arts and Open Spaces Director Rick Gould announces retirement. Plus, the Board of Supervisors approve mental health care improvements. Check out these stories and more tonight on SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Tuesday, October 17, 2017
The Advanced Technology Presentation about "Careers in the Making...Design, Engineering, Fabrication and More..." in celebration of National Manufacturing Day was a huge success.
SCV Students Gain Knowledge, Advice at National Manufacturing Day
A local company is expanding its footprint in the Santa Clarita Valley to accommodate business growth and another is relocating a division of its company from Sylmar.
Accurate Freight Systems Expands, Leases Space at IAC Commerce Center
The Domestic Violence Center (DVC) of Santa Clarita Valley is accepting applications for Adopt-a-Family 2017.
DVC of SCV Currently Accepting Adopt-a-Family 2017 Applications
Major Impact Theater, founded by Jill Garson and Shawnda Davis in 2014, is a non-profit theater group that specially adapts plays for performance by adults with disabilities in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Nov. 4: Major Impact Theater Presents Blunderland
California State University, Northridge will make history on Thursday, Oct. 26, by becoming the first California State University with a Sustainability Center.
Oct. 26: CSUN to Open Sustainability Center
Registration for the Purple Walk of Strength is now open.
Oct. 21: Purple Walk of Strength to Benefit Domestic Violence Center
Raising a child is a demanding job for any parent, especially when supportive resources seem to be elusive or nonexistent.
Oct. 22: CSUN Hosts Special Needs Resource Fair
College of the Canyons dominated its match vs. Bakersfield College from start to finish on Friday night, resulting in a 5-1 victory over the Renegades for the Cougars' first conference win of the season.
COC Gets First Conference Win of Season Against Bakersfield College
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Following a two-week layoff, College of the Canyons cross country was back in competition on Saturday, running with a mix of community college and Division I programs at the Sixth Annual UC Riverside Highlander Invitational.
COC Cross Country Back in Competition After Two Week Layoff
The race to qualify for the Big West Conference Men's Soccer Tournament continues for CSUN this week with a home match against UC Riverside Wednesday night before the Matadors head to UC Irvine Saturday.
Oct. 18: CSUN Faces Off Against UC Riverside