NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In a sphere of oenophiles far removed from the world of Two-Buck Chuck and Franzia, a billionaire went to trial Wednesday in his lawsuit against a California wine merchant who allegedly cheated him to the tune of $320,000.
Attorneys argued before a federal grand jury in Manhattan Wednesday about the wine purchased by Florida resident William Koch, the founder of the Oxbow Group energy company and the brother of businessmen and conservative political moguls Charles and David Koch.
William Koch is seeking compensation for 24 allegedly fake bottles of wine purported to be as old as 1865 that he says he bought at a 2005 auction.
He also sought unspecified additional damages against Eric Greenberg, a one-time billionaire who built two Internet companies before the 2000 collapse of those stocks damaged his net worth.
A combative Greenberg testified Wednesday that he never intentionally sold fake wine. Greenberg is slated to resume testimony Thursday.
This is far from the first time Koch has taken an issue about his wine collection to court. In 2006, he sued German wine dealer Harry Rodenstock, claiming that two bottles that Rodenstock had claimed once belonged to Thomas Jefferson were fakes, according to published reports.
That case was ultimately dismissed on the grounds that he had taken too long to take legal action – failing to begin investigating for legal action until 2005 when reports that the purported Jefferson wine bottles were fakes had surfaced five years earlier, published reports said.
In 2008, Koch also sued Chicago Wine Co., Chicago-based Julienne Importing Co., and New York-based auctioneers Acker Merrall & Condit on the grounds that they sold him counterfeit vintage wine, published reports said. The following year, he sued Los Angeles wine collector Rudy Kurniawan on the same grounds, published reports said.
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