Arrests made in counterfeit Romanee-Conti operation

Romanee-Conti labelSeven people have been arrested in an operation to take down a counterfeiting ring thought to have sold €2m-worth of fake Romanee-Conti vintage wine.

The arrests were made at properties across Europe last week, with police supported by Europol and Eurojust seizing dozens of bottles of the knock-offs, which were said to be blends of low-quality wines of "undetermined origin," according to the French authorities.

Burgundy-based Romanee-Conti produces around 6.000 bottles a year of its pinot noir red wine, which sell for up to €9,000 per bottle, and the vineyard first alerted the authorities to the presence of fakes on the market in 2012.

The counterfeiters are thought to have sold at least 400 fakes to unsuspecting collectors, although it is not known how many more may be in circulation.

Two Italian wine merchants are among those arrested in connection with the scam, and France has asked for them to be extradited to face charges. Other suspects are also being sought in connection with the case.

The ring artificially aged counterfeit labels with wax and the fakes were almost indistinguishable from the genuine article, according to local news reports.

Last year, two cases of 1988 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti took top billing in a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong, brinking in HK$1.59m (around $205,000) apiece.

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