A Love For Wine. Bill Koch Awarded $12 Million In Punitive Damages

Bill KochBill Koch loves his wine.  In October of 2005 Bill purchased $3.7 million at a Zachys auction of 17,000 bottles from Greenberg’s cellar.  He alleged that 24 of the bottles he bought were counterfeit and that Greenberg was aware of this at the time of  the sale.  That’s .014% of the purchase, or 1 counterfeit bottle of wine for every 708 genuine bottles of wine.

Bill’s crusade against counterfeit wine and restoring justice to the trade has taken seven years, and resulted in more than $10 million dollars in legal costs.  The result?

The trial lasted two and a half weeks, but it took the eight-person jury just two hours to reach their verdict April 11. Koch was initially awarded compensatory damages of $379,000 to cover the cost of his purchases plus $1,000 per bottle. The following day, after a further hour of deliberations, the jury decided to award Koch $12 million in punitive damages. [ winespectator.com ]

Bill Koch Wines 

What did Bill Koch have to say about this?

“There was a code of silence in this bloody wine business, and now it’s been broken.  I can’t stand being cheated.  But the worst thing of all is that counterfeiting degrades the love of the vintner for his wine.” Bill Koch 

Powerful stuff.  You really have to feel for the billionaire.  No one in this world should have to endure the suffering that comes with the diminishment of their love for wine.  A truly courageous battle.  Bravo, Bill, bravo.  Just because you’re a billionaire doesn’t mean you need to be a philanthropist with the money, or fight injustices that impact other people aside from wealthy wine connoisseurs, and it’s not for me to judge how he spends his money.  But I’m going to anyway.  What a dick.   

We only live this life once.  Seven years and an investment of over $10 million in legal costs is a fair chunk of time, energy and money to expend on an issue like this.  Wine is suppose to help you relax, have a good time.  Savor the better things in life.  Maybe Bill missed a meeting.  I guess he really can’t stand being cheated, as he said.

In life, sometimes you buy 17,000 bottles of wine for $3.4 million dollars, and 24 of those bottles are counterfeit.  Who among us hasn’t suffered in this way?  But you take it in stride, you enjoy the other 16,976 bottles, and try not to let the aftertaste be made too bitter for the lamenting of the lost 24.  If any good comes of this, perhaps some wine connoisseurs will sleep better at night, knowing there’s Bill Koch in the world to have their back and fight the good fight on their behalf.






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