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Energy Mogul Says He’s Been Cheated By Wine Merchants Too Many Times

Wines (file/credit: CBS 2)

Wines (file/credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Florida billionaire energy maven and wine collector told a New York jury Wednesday that he doesn’t even like wine auctions anymore, because he has too often been the victim of buying fake wine.

In his latest lawsuit, William Koch, founder of the Oxbow Group energy company and the brother of businessmen and conservative political moguls Charles and David Koch, has sued onetime billionaire Eric Greenberg, a California businessman who sold Koch wine in 2005.

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 claims Greenberg cheated him of more than $320,000 by selling him the fraudulent wine.

Greenberg already has testified at the trial that began last week, saying he never intentionally sold a fake bottle of wine.

Koch said he buys very few bottles at auction anymore because he’s “tired of buying fake wine.”

This is not the first time Koch has gone to court over claims about being defrauded in wine sales. 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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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)