Rudy Kurniwan, the wine world’s most famous counterfeiter, was deported from the United States confirmed U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) officials. The departure marks the end of a bizarre odyssey that ensnared some of the country’s wealthiest collectors
“Rudy Kurniawan, 44, unlawfully present in the United States, was removed to his home country on a commercial flight. ICE deportation officers witnessed his departure from the country on a flight that departed the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport,” read a statement from the Feds. “He arrived at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang City, Bann, Indonesia, on Friday.”
The deportation was no surprise for the convicted felon who has been in the US without a visa since 2003. In fact, during a November 2020 hearing, Kurniwan’s lawyer Jerry Mooney argued that his client should be allowed to upgrade to first class. “They’ll give him the worse seat on the plane,” Mooney pleaded with the judge.
Federal prosecutors reported that Kurniwan bilked collectors out of millions of dollars between 2004 and 2012. Photos taken during an FBI raid on his southern California home showed a blending setup as well as labels from thousands of rare cuvées. The subsequent fallout shook the high end wine community, where Kurniwan was a celebrity, as well as the reputation of Acker Merrall, the US’ oldest wine retailer.
One of said bilked collectors was billionaire, conservative powerbroker Bill Koch. Koch financed a private investigation that helped unearth the scam. He subsequently obtained a $3 million civil judgement against Kurniwan, but has not been able to successfully collect a cent. Likewise, the $48.4 m in court ordered forfeiture and restitution are also largely unpaid.