Auction house Acker Merrall & Condit has withdrawn a lot featuring a 1924 Romanee Conti for its upcoming Hong Kong auction on June 11-13 after American lawyer Don Cornwell, who became famous for his involvement in uncovering fraudster Rudy Kurniawan questioned its authenticity.
Don Cornwell’s allegation on the DRC bottle’s authenticity was posted on Wine Berserkers’ website on June 5, in which he called the 1924 DRC bottle “unquestionably counterfeit.”
The lot has been pulled from Acker’s online auction catalog on the same day when the allegation surfaced. A search for the lot in question, 710, showed no result and confirmed the withdrawal.
Andrew Bigbee, CEO of Acker Asia, when reached by Vino Joy News, confirmed the lot has been removed. He said, “The lot offering a bottle of 1924 DRC in our upcoming June HK auction (lot 710) which was purchased by the consignor at Zachy’s auction in September 2012, was withdrawn from the auction last Thursday.”
However, it’s worthy to note the withdrawal doesn’t prove conclusively the wine in question is in fact counterfeit but more of an act of caution and responsibility.
“Lot No. 710 is a purported bottle of 1924 DRC Romanée Conti, which is estimated to sell at US $20,000-28,000 (US) and HK$160,000-224,000. The claim made is that this bottle came from the cellar of Aziz Khan. This bottle has no labeling of any kind and a completely incorrect, non-original wax capsule which is approximately ¼ inch thick. The glass on the bottle shown in the photograph in the catalog, which is highly wrinkled and irregularly shaped, is absolutely not a bottle utilized by DRC in that era. In short, this bottle is, in my opinion, unquestionably counterfeit,” Cornwell alleged in his post.
The lawyer said he had reached out to the auction house about the bottle but did not receive any reply, to which Vino Joy News can’t independently verify.
“I have sent a total of three emails to John Kapon and Acker (on May 28, June 1 and June 2) notifying them that I believe the bottle to be counterfeit and requesting high resolution photographs of the glass bottle, the punt, the capsule and the top of the bottle. I have received no response of any kind,” he claimed.
According to the auction house, the upcoming wine auction will be conducted online amid the coronavirus pandemic. The sale titled LXXVIII Auction is estimated to value over HK$50 million, according to Acker’s chairman John Kapon.
The first day of the auction on June 11 will feature a collection owned by a gentleman known as ‘The Pathfinder’, (Lots 1-503), a collection “full of gems from every corner of the fine wine globe, from the five First Growths, to Burgundian beauties both young and old, to regal Rhone,”says the auction house.
The second day sale on June 13 will offer more superlative lots from Bordeaux and Burgundy, as well as 100 lots from Chateau Lafite Rothschild.
“As Hong Kong starts to re-open ahead of much of the rest of the world, we are thrilled to be able to continue to offer you the best of the best “live online” in this new virtual world. The wine market continues to go from strength to strength, and catalogs don’t get much stronger than this one!” Acker chairman John Kapon wrote.