Stephen Williams of the Antique Wine Company sent the following statement in addition to his earlier response to the lawsuit against the company filed last week.
Julian LeCraw Jr. v The Antique Wine Company
Further statement from Stephen Williams, Managing Director of The Antique Wine Company
London, 25th April 2014 - Following the lawsuit filed on 17th April 2014 in the United States (Georgia, Atlanta) by Julian LeCraw Jr., against The Antique Wine Company, Stephen Williams has made the following further statement:
The Antique Wine Company has refrained from expressing its detailed views on this matter because the matter is before the courts. However, in view of certain incorrect statements which are circulating in the media and online, The Antique Wine Company finds it necessary to emphasize that it duly researched the provenance of the wines it supplied and fully disclosed that information to Julian LeCraw Jr. at the time of his various purchases. We provide below some examples of the diligence exercised with respect to the most prominent bottles in the dispute.
1787 Chateau d'Yquem
Prior to selling the bottle of 1787 Chateau d'Yquem, The Antique Wine Company conducted research to establish provenance relating to the bottle. Information discovered included a letter issued by Chateau d'Yquem dated 15th November 1995 which described the bottle and confirmed that the chateau cellarmaster had re-corked and relabelled it, and which set out some detail revealing the chateau's recollection of its previous ownership. The letter describes the bottle and cork, and that description matches the unique physical appearance of the bottle sold to Mr. LeCraw. The authenticity of the letter has been further verified by Comte Alexandre de Lur Saluces recently. This evidence was provided to the plaintiff's lawyers several weeks prior to these proceedings being issued.
1847 Chateau d'Yquem
Prior to selling the bottle of 1847 Chateau d'Yquem, The Antique Wine Company conducted research to establish provenance relating to the bottle. To ensure the buyer was fully aware of the results of this research The Antique Wine Company affixed a back label on the bottle which states:
1847 Chateau d'Yquem
Inspected by Antique Wine Company, Bordeaux October 2007.
This bottle of Chateau d'Yquem bears the original wax seal dated 1847, and at some time during its life it appears to have been re-corked by the Lur Saluces family, owners of Chateau d'Yquem during the entire 20th Century.
In October 2007 the bottle was examined by Comte Alexandre Lur Saluces. He reported that the entire 1847 production was sold to the Cruse family Negotiant Company. This fact was confirmed by M. Lionel CRUSE who also examined the bottle and reported that the crop was bottled in their Bordeaux cellars and mainly sold in Russia and Scandinavia. Export documents indicate the Imperial House of Romanov in Saint Petersberg to have acquired the majority of the production. This bottle is an exact match to two bottles that remain in the cellars of the Cruse family in Bordeaux.
The complaint asserts that the back label is inaccurate because "Chateau d'Yquem confirmed that Mr. Lur-Saluces left Chateau d'Yquem in 2004." In fact, the back label is accurate: the bottle was presented to the Count Alexandre de Lur Saluces at his home Chateau de Fargues in Bordeaux in October 2007 by a Master of Wine duly engaged by The Antique Wine Company.
18th and 19th Century Chateau Lafite-Rothschild
Prior to selling the 18th and 19th Century bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild The Antique Wine Company conducted research to establish provenance information relating to these wines.
The company obtained copies of correspondence between the management of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild and a previous owner of the bottles of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in which arrangements were made to re-cork and recondition the bottles of wine. This correspondence included a document marked "ATTESTATION" and was signed on 28th June 1983 by Yves Le Canu, then Director of Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite). This 1983 letter is written on Domaines Rothschild headed paper and includes the five arrows Rothschild logo.The complaint asserts that the bottles are counterfeit because Rothschild did not use such a logo until 1988. The management of Chateau Lafite Rothschild have confirmed to The Antique Wine Company that the "5 arrows logo was used by DBR at that time (prior to1988)."
Copies of the correspondence was provided to Mr. LeCraw Jr. at the time of his purchase and again to his lawyers before the complaint was filed.
Note to Editors: Given there have been several other inaccuracies in published articles reporting on the case, which have since been corrected, please kindly note the following in particular for your report:
- The allegation that the wines sold to Mr LeCraw Jr. are fake has not been proven, is denied by the defendants and therefore is not fact.
- Exhibit B in the documents filed by Mr LeCraw Jr., a letter from Hardy Rodenstock, is nota letter of authentication. The bottle did not come from Hardy Rodenstock nor did he provide evidence of its authenticity as his letter to The Antique Wine Company makes clear. Chateau d'Yquem itself provided the necessary evidence of authenticity.
- Mr Williams did not fly the 1787 bottle of Chateau d'Yquem to Mr LeCraw Jr.'s house in a private jet or say that he was delivering it to an anonymous American billionaire. These were media reports at the time that are not factually correct, nor statements made by Mr Williams.