Showing posts with label wine fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine fraud. Show all posts

July 19, 2015

Editorial Essay: Toby Bull's perspective in "The Grape War of China: Wine Fraud and How Science is Fighting Back" in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

In the editorial essay "The Grape War of China: Wine Fraud and How Science is Fighting Back" Hong Kong police officer Toby Bull presents his perspective in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crimeedited by Noah Charney (with Marc Balcells and Christos Tsirogiannis) and published by ARCA:

There has been wine made from grapes – as opposed to grain - in China for thousands of years (Kjellgren, 2004). Indeed, Wang Renxiang (1993) considers it to be at the very heart of China’s culture and identity. Vine cultivation goes as far back as the Zhou dynasty (ca. 1100-256 BC), where indigenous vines within the royal gardens were said to have existed. The first documented account of Western viticulture coming into contact with the Middle Kingdom is found in a First Century BC history book, Shiji, where an emperor’s envoy sent to the lands west of what is now the Sino-Uzbekistan border area, saw “grapes that were used to make wine...the oldest was kept several decades without getting spoilt” (cited in Kjellgren, 2004). The envoy, duly impressed, returned with some cuttings and, not long afterwards, Chinese vineyards from a Eurasian grape varietal were established, eventually producing wine fit for the imperial palate (Kjellgren, 2004). And so wine became associated with the rich and high-born: a luxurious and desirous product, and with it, perhaps, the earliest recorded case of a “wine crime” occurring in ancient China.

Li Hua (2002) mentions an official bestowing a gift of (grape) wine - the equivalent of 20 liters – in order to achieve a high position and win favor at court. Hua refers to this as “the first time an office was bought with wine” – a neat symmetry to the modern-day practice referred to in China as “Elegant Bribery:” the art of bribing officials with gifts, normally of art or expensive Grand-Crus. China’s recent anti-graft measures, a decree by the current president, are seeing some changes to this method, although the Chinese still buy wine, lots of it, both for gift-giving and personal consumption, but are now spending less (Luo, 2014). Thus, whilst the West can look to the writings of Pliny the Elder from 1st century Rome for early references to the relationship between the wine trade and the shenanigans sometimes associated with it, so too can China look to its past, for the concept is not a new one.
Toby J. A. Bull was born in England and educated at the famous Rugby School. He holds three academic degrees, including a BA (Hons) in ‘Fine Arts Valuation’ and a MSc in ‘Risk, Crisis & Disaster Management’. He continued his studies in the arts by becoming a qualified art authenticator, studying at the Centre for Cultural Material Conservation and graduating from the University of Melbourne, Australia. He has extensive knowledge in forensic art authentication methods, as well as in the more theoretical and academic studies surrounding art fraud. His main interests include the topic of fakes and forgeries of Chinese ceramics and the problems of smuggled illicit antiquities emanating out of China. He has subsequently seen his work on this subject published in “Art & Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art Market” (Praeger, 2009), as well as in “Cultural Property Crime” (Brill, 2014). Since 1993, he has worked for the Hong Kong Police Force. His expertise in the field of art crime have allowed him to be an advisor, as well as an Honorary Professor to the “Association for the Research into Crimes Against Art” (ARCA) for their postgraduate certificate program on “Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection.” He has lectured extensively to the art trade and beyond on topics surrounding ‘Art Crime’ to the likes of Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Christie’s Education, The World Congress of Forensics and at Asia Art in London, as well as to ARCA's ‘Art Crime & Cultural Heritage Protection Conference’ held annually in Italy. He recently Chaired the Forensic DNA panel at the 2014 World Gene Convention where he presented a paper on synthetic DNA security coding and its application to the art and fine wine markets in helping to combat fakes. Seeing the disparity between public and private involvement in the field of art crime and its associated spin-offs, Toby founded TrackArt in 2011– Hong Kong’s first Art Risk Consultancy. Toby is a Member of The Worshipful Company of Art Scholars.

Here's a link to ARCA's website about access to The Journal of Art Crime.

May 15, 2013's John Stimpfig spotlights "The Wine Forger's Handbook" by wine journalist Stuart George and ARCA Founder Noah Charney

Wine connoisseur John Stimpfig spotlights the The Wine Forger's Handbook by wine journalist Stuart George and ARCA Founder Noah Charney in, the online publication of the international wine magazine:
The slim volume gives a short history of forgery and fraud in the wine world, before going on to detail two short case studies covering two of the best known alleged fine wine fraudsters of recent times: Hardy Rodenstock and Rudy Kurniawan. It also functions as a guide with practical tips and a checklist of actions on how to avoid becoming a victime of counterfeit wine. The book comes at a time when collector awareness and press interest in the subject of fraud has never been higher, after series of high-profile legal cases.
The ebook The Wine Forger's Handbook was published in March and can be ordered at

Here's a link to a post on the ARCA blog about the FBI's investigation into wine fraud.

March 11, 2012

FBI Arrests Collector in Wine Fraud After Investigation by the FBI Art Crime Team

LOS ANGELES - Museum Security Network disbursed the headline, "FBI Art (?) Crime Team - Wine collector accused of fraud, trying to sell fake French vintages." According to an article on The Los Angeles Times blog by Andrew Blankenstein, a resident of Arcadia, a suburb in the San Gabriel Valley, was arrested March 8 "by FBI agents assigned to the Los Angeles office after a years-long investigation by the FBI Art Crime Team".

The FBI's National Stolen Art File Search categorizes objects from "Altar" to "Wine Cooler" and includes traditional fine art (paintings, watercolors) and other valuables such as musical instruments, guns, prayer mats, and even ice pails.  The FBI's Top Ten Art Crimes range from Iraqi Looted and Stolen Artifacts to Theft from the E. G. B├╝hrle Collection, Zurich.

In the fourth issue of The Journal of Art Crime (Spring 2011), James Charney reviewed The Billionaire's Vinegar (Three Rivers Press, New York, 2009) which discusses the issue of authenticating fine wines.

In the most recent issue of The Journal of Art Crime (Fall 2011), Noah Charney interviews Stuart George, an expert on fine wines, and the crimes committed in the wine world.
Noah Charney: How frequently do you suspect that fraud takes place in the world of high-priced wines? 
Stuart George: Leaving aside the 1787 Lafite mentioned above in "The Billionaire's Vinegar), I have never knowingly seen a “genuine fake” bottle of fine wine. Nonetheless, merchants’ and auctioneers’ outrage at fake wine is like Claude Rains’ shock at learning that there was gambling at Rick’s place in Casablanca. Anything that is valuable is in danger of being faked. 
More attention is being paid to preventing fraudulent wine than ever before, which suggests that as the Hong Kong/China market has gone supernova, the amount of fakes and forgeries being sold has increased significantly.According to some sources, fake wines flow in and out of Hong Kong like the cheap and illegal Irish reprints of books that allegedly flooded the British market in the eighteenth century. I was told that China’s government officially deplores the country’s inexorable production of fakes but in practice turns a blind eye.

August 22, 2011

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2011: John Daab on "The Case of the Questionable Jeffersonian Lafites: Forensic Applications in Detecting Wine Fraud"

In the fifth issue of The Journal of Art Crime (Spring 2011), John Daab, a Certified Fraud Examiner specializing in art and forgery research, has written on "The Case of the Questionable Jeffersonian Lafites: Forensic Applications in Detecting Wine Fraud". Mr. Daab writes in the article’s abstract:
Keys noted that the earliest manufacture of wine took place around 8000 BC. Robinson (2006) said that Pliny the Elder remarked that wine adulteration had reached a point in 1st century Rome that wine was no longer worth drinking. Although the tinkering with the grape has been with us since early Rome, wine fraud cases have seen an upsurge due to increases in demand not only for wine for the family table wine, but for historic collectibles found in the cellars of the wine connoisseur (Robinson, 2006). Wine fakers cost consumers, suppliers, and collectible connoisseurs millions of dollars a year. They use humidification; blending and stretching; substitution of low quality for expensive quality; and many other forms of fakery. This fakery is not only costly to the consumer but has led to cases of serious injury and death (Henry, 1986). This article addresses the fakes, how they are processed, and forensic applications used to detect and indentify the bogus mix.
Dr. John Daab is a Certified Fraud Examiner specializing in art and forgery research with Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and a Certified Forensics Consultant, Accredited Forensic Counselor and a Registered Investigator with the American College of Forensic Examiners International. John holds Diplomate status (DABFE) with the American Board of Forensic Examiners and holds Certified Homeland Security I (CHS-1) and Certified Intelligence Analyst (IAC) member status with the American Board of Certification in Homeland Security.

An academic with various undergraduate and graduate degrees from philosophy to business with a focus on art authentication, John is a sculptor who works can be seen on the Fine Art Registry (his works can be seen in his FAR online portfolio). He has published more than 100 articles and recently authored, "The Art Fraud Protection Handbook" (Kindle Edition). He has a credential from New York University in Fine and Decorative Arts Appraisal. He completed the docent program at Princeton. His second book is "Forensic Application in Detecting Fine, Decorative, and Collectible Art Fakes" (Kindle Edition). He is developing a third book on the "Business of Art."