The notorious wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan, aka Mr Conti, has been deported to his native country Indonesia last week from the US after spending seven years in jail for defrauding wine collectors millions of dollars.
The 44-year-old Indonesian of Chinese descent looked visibly older in the photo handout by Immigration officer.
Kurniawan was deported last week on a commercial flight from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Jakarta, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, as reported by AP.
In 2013 he was convicted for mail and wire fraud and was sentenced to 10 years in prison after testimonies from billionaire wine collector William Koch, Aubert de Villaine, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti owner, and Laurent Ponsot.
He was released last November but stayed in immigration custody before being deported last week to Jakarta. Rumors had been swirling that Kurniawan might be heading for Hong Kong after release, where his alleged brother lives.
Having arrived in the US in 2003, Kurniawan built a reputation for himself as a wine buyer and collector. Fellow collectors dubbed him “Dr. Conti” for his love of the rarified Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
In 2006, an Acker, Merrall & Condit auction of his wines raised US$24.7 million, the largest for a single consignee at that time.
Two years later, suspicion on his wines were raised by Laurent Ponsot, former owener of Domaine Ponsot, when the auction house tried to sell 22 bottles of Kurniawan’s wines.
One bottle of Domaine Ponsot included in the sale was allegedly made in 1929, even though the winery didn’t begin estate bottling until 1934.
Kurniawan’s 1982 Le Pin and 1947 Lafleur were also flagged at auctions. In 2009, William Koch filed a lawsuit against Kurniawan for selling him 219 fake bottles of wine worth US$2.1 million.
FBI said as many as 12,000 bottles of counterfeit wine from some of the best wineries were sold from Kurniawan’s concoctions, many of which still remain in collectors’ cellars.