The $156,000 Bottle of Wine

If you’re looking for proof that wealth doesn’t buy intelligence you need go no further than this fascinating tale of a particularly outrageous fraud in the vintage wine market. The bottle in question, a 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux, said to be owned by Thomas Jefferson, was sold at auction for $156,000. The sale and the eccentric cast of characters who played a role is an irresistible tale of greed, gullibility and sheer human folly. A taste:

“Tim Littler bought a Jéroboam of 1869 Mouton at Christie’s London. When he got home he left the bottle upright on a table. Later, when he turned to look at it, he could see right through. Alarmed, he held the bottle up to the light. The fluid inside seemed far too translucent for a red Bordeaux, and, strangely, no sediment was swirling around … Littler opened the bottle and, sure enough, it contained colored water.”

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