In 1985, Michael Broadbent found himself conducting a wine auction for what seemed to be the rarest of wines – a bottle of Château Lafite apparently once owned by Thomas Jefferson. It was a standing-room only crowd, as the bidding for Lot 337 began. Among the bidders was Kip Forbes, son of publisher Malcolm Forbes and Marvin Shanken, publisher of the Wine Spectator. The bids bounced back and forth between Forbes and Shanken. When the gavel finally fell, Kip Forbes had purchased the rare bottle for the tidy sum of $156,000, making it the most expensive bottle of wine in the world.
The monumental auction drew attention and curiosity At some point, many people grew suspicious of the provenance of these bottles. A mysterious collector named Hardy Rodenstock had consigned the bottle to Christie’s, telling everyone that it had been found hidden in a secret cellar in France. Rodenstock seemed to have other rare bottles as well, some of which he would pour and share with others at lavish dinners and tastings. Some he would sell through merchants, such as the bottles bought by billionaire Bill Koch. The mystery of the rare bottles kept growing.
Join us as we talk with author Ben Wallace about the research that led to his book, “The Billionaire’s Vinegar,” which documents the sudden emergence of these rare bottles of wine, all apparently unearthed by noted wine collector Hardy Rodenstock.
To find out more information:
Ben Wallace and his book: www.benjaminwallace.net
Update!: Broadbent Wins Jefferson Bottles Libel Case: www.decanter.com
If you like this interview check out our previous show:
Thomas Jefferson and Wine: Thomas Jefferson and Wine Show #221
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