crazy wine fraud story to be adapted into movie

Interesting. A few months back, I read a fascinating story about Rudy Karniawan, a mysterious figure who worked his way into the elite world rare collectible wine and pulled one of the biggest wine scams in history.

Now it looks like they're turning the story of the real-life wine caper, based on the Vanity Fair article, into a feature film.

Level One's Bill Todman Jr, Edward Milstein To Make Film About Wine Fraud Who Sold Bogus Bottles To Milstein.

The article focuses on the curious ascension of Karniawan, a 31-year old collector from Indonesia who, from his perch in Los Angeles, began buying and selling large quantities of rare Burgundy wines in 2003 and soon became the world’s most prodigious wine collector. Vague about his origins and armed with an impeccable knowledge of wine and a discerning palate, Karniawan helped drive up the prices of rare grape, and then sold $35 million worth of wines in two auctions. Many of them turned out to be counterfeits. Karniawan, who spent big bucks to build his credibility among wine aficionados, had an arrangement with with the restaurants that hosted his wine-tasting parties, one that should have set off alarm bells. He ordered them to return his empty bottles, which he would refill with old but inferior wines he bought in bulk. He’d blend his own mixture and auction them as rare valuable fakes. He was done in by winemaker Laurent Ponsot, who discovered Karniawan was selling bottles of his family’s wines dated in years that the family wasn’t bottling the product. The FBI got involved, and discovered Karniawan wasn’t the wealthy scion of an Indonesian family, but rather was in the country illegally. He was arrested for wire and mail fraud and the Feds uncovered an elaborate counterfeiting operation in his home. If left collectors whining they’d been had. Among them was Milstein, who’ll produce with Todman Jr.

It's a bizarre, crazy story that definitely has a Catch Me If You Can quality to it. This guy fooled a lot of so-called expert wine enthusiasts who supposedly should have known better.

They don't even have a screenwriter yet, but of course, I immediately have to wonder if the Rudy Karniawan will be played by an Asian actor. I'm not going to hold my breath. Read the original story here.

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