US & Canada

Billionaire William Koch wins $12m in wine fraud case

William Koch (left) arrives at court with his lawyer, in New York 12 April 2013
Image caption William Koch (left) said he was "over the moon" with the award

A billionaire from the state of Florida has won $12m (£7.8m) in damages awarded by a New York jury in a dispute over fake vintage wine.

Former America's Cup yachtsman William Koch said he had not been so happy since he won the sailing race in 1992.

Eric Greenberg said he thought wines he sold, which made about $42m in eight years of auctions, were authentic.

The lawsuit alleged Bordeaux wine had been labelled to suggest it was bottled between 1864 and 1950.

Two dozen bottles of the fake wine were fraudulently sold to him at an auction in 2005, Mr Koch alleged.

'Lost millions'

"Out of sight! Over the moon!" said Mr Koch said, laughing, outside a court in New York.

"We weren't even expecting any damages and we got $12 million. Unbelievable!"

As he left the court with his lawyer, each of them displayed one of the bottles at stake in the trial.

Mr Koch, an energy magnate and brother of major US industrialists David and Charles Koch, also said he would use the settlement to help eliminate fraud in the wine auction market and would create a website to help spot fake wines and their dealers.

But Mr Greenberg, a businessman from California, said the outcome of the trial was "a disappointment because I believed all the consigned wine to be authentic," in a statement.

"We believe that we acted honourably and tried to do the right thing for all concerned," he added, saying he would appeal against the verdict.

In an earlier statement to the jury, Mr Greenberg suggested the case had cost the two parties a total of $17m.

"I'm very sorry I had counterfeit wine. It's a horrible thing. Both of us have lost millions of dollars."

After the ruling, one juror described how they decided how much should be paid to Mr Koch in damages. He said the jurors wrote down the amount they thought was fair and averaged it.

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