In Vino Duplicitas

The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire

By Peter Hellman

True crime pairs well with fine wine in the astonishing story of Rudy Kurniawan, perhaps the most notorious—and unlikely—wine forger in history

Few gain entry to the privileged world of ultrafine wines, where billionaires flock to exclusive auction houses to vie for the scarce surviving bottles from truly legendary years. But Rudy Kurniawan, an unknown twentysomething from Indonesia, was blessed with two gifts that opened doors: a virtuoso palate for wine tasting, and access to a seemingly limitless (if mysterious) supply of the world’s most coveted wines.

After bursting onto the scene in 2002, Kurniawan quickly became the leading purveyor of rare wines to the American elite. But in April 2008, his lots of Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis red burgundy—dating as far back as 1945—were abruptly pulled from auction. The problem? The winemaker was certain that this particular burgundy was first produced only in 1982.

Journalist Peter Hellman was there, and he would closely investigate as a singular cast of characters—including a Kansas-born billionaire and self-proclaimed “hoarder,” a dignified Burgundian winemaker, a wine-loving young prosecutor, and a crusty FBI agent who prepared for the case by reading French Wine for Dummies—worked to unravel the biggest con in wine history. Whether driven by the love of wine or of justice, all were asking the same question: Was the mild-mannered Kurniawan himself a dupe? Or had one young man—with little experience and few connections—ensnared the world’s top winemakers, sellers, and drinkers in a web of deceit?

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Peter Hellman

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Review quotes
“An engrossing account of wine fraud and forgery . . . Hellman clearly knows his stuff.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Heady, intoxicating . . . shines a light on the esoteric and intriguing world of ultrarare, ultrafine wines.”—Foreword, starred review

“[A] compelling mix of wine devotion (journalist Hellman’s included) and true crime (complete with avenging furies, from a bloody-minded Koch brother to a passionate French vintner).”—Maclean’s

“Like Law & Order for oenophiles, In Vino Duplicitas is a true crime account set among the cognoscenti of the wine world.”—Imbibe

“Journalist Peter Hellman spent years following the strange saga of Rudy Kurniawan, who in 2013 was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling untold millions of dollars in fake rare vintages. Hellman tells the phenomenal story of the mysterious fraudster in In Vino Duplicitas.”—Wine Enthusiast

“A captivating story . . . Hellman’s voice is that of the amused but compassionate observer. He saves his disdain for those who seemed to have colluded in the scam, the auctioneers and rich collectors so eager for economic gain and status that they willfully ignored the evidence in front of them. By definition, rare wines are in finite supply. It is perhaps this underlying matter of motivation that does most to deepen the satisfaction of this well-told story.”—Times Literary Supplement

In Vino Duplicitas is a fast-paced and suspenseful real-life thriller brimming with rich, vivid detail.”—Apple’s iBooks Best Book of July

“[An] absorbing account of true crime in high society.”—Publishers Weekly

“Peter Hellman led the way in reporting on Rudy Kurniawan’s monumental fraud, and he has written the book it deserves: tenaciously researched, propulsively told, and infused with earned wisdom about the wine world. I found it hard to put In Vino Duplicitas down and, like one of the authentically magical bottles the book describes, it will linger in your mind.”—Benjamin Wallace, author of The Billionaire’s Vinegar

“A page-turning cautionary tale about the elite world of wine, and a gripping and disturbing read. You won’t be able to put it down.”—Frances Dinkelspiel, author of Tangled Vines

“The best account of fraudster Rudy Kurniawan to date. Riveting, deftly-researched, entertaining, it’s a page-turner that reveals all sorts of new details about the largest wine fraud in history.”—Mark Oldman, author of How to Drink Like a Billionaire

“An exciting page-turner”—George Taber, author of Judgment of Paris
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Publication date
July 31, 2017