- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2015

File this under gift ideas for the person who seems to have everything.

Ahead of the Black Friday holiday shopping season kickoff, the U.S. Marshals Service is auctioning off high-end bottles of wine seized from a convicted wine counterfeiter.

Despite coming from the wine cellar of Rudy Kurniawan — formerly one of the most prominent dealers of rare wines in the United States before he was convicted of an elaborate counterfeit scheme — the more than 4,700 bottles of wine up for sale have been deemed authentic.

Starting bids for the wines seized from the wine connoisseur range from $13,500 for a 2002 1.5 liter bottle of Romanée Conti from the vineyards of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Burgundy’s best-known wine producer, to $75 for 12 bottles of Liberty Bay Cellars Merlot.

Most of the authentic wines were likely to be used as part of Kurniawan’s scheme, according to prosecutors who handed the case. Kurniawan mixed lower-priced wines so they would mimic the taste of rare and far more expensive wines and poured the blends into old bottles with forged vintage labels for sale at premium prices.

The 39-year-old was busted in 2012 when authorities raided his Arcadia, California home and wine storage facility and uncovered his wine-making laboratory. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2014 for his fraudulent business and ordered to pay more than $28 million in restitution to victims swindled by the scheme.

Left behind after authorities raided Kurniawan’s counterfeit lab were thousands of bottle of legitimate rare and high-end wines that the U.S. Marshals Service seized.

The wines are to be sold in two separate online auctions, one starting Tuesday and the second on December 1, with proceeds from the sales to be passed on to victims who were duped.

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