Almost every woman I know (including myself) has knowingly purchased a fake designer handbag at one time or another. I know it’s wrong—that counterfeiting can cost legitimate companies a great deal of money, and that it can harm the unwitting purveyors of fakes as well. For example, eBay was recently ordered to pay $60 million to LVMH, owner of the Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior brands, for selling fakes on its site.
Of course, fancy handbags aren’t the only luxury goods considered worth copying these days; as the price of fine wine escalates, so, too, has the quantity of imposter bottles on the market. The number has reached into the hundreds of thousands, as in Tuscany, where Italian authorities found quite a few Brunello producers making their fancy wine with cheap, non-Brunello grapes. (The government’s fraud-fighting tactics are quintessentially Italian: They began training policemen as undercover sommeliers.)
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- Bargain Bordeaux & Luxurious Dinners
Often, wine producers are the victims, not the perpetrators, of fraud. When 22 lots of Domaine Ponsot grand cru Burgundies with an estimated top value of $600,000 appeared at the Acker Merrall & Condit auction in New York City this past spring, proprietor Laurent Ponsot showed up in person to protest that the bottles were fakes. Indeed, some of them were from vintages in which Domaine Ponsot never made wine. The lots were withdrawn to much debate about how much responsibility the auction house bore. The consigning collector would not address questions about the wines’ provenance and, at the time of this writing, his source is still unknown.