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All about fraud

If you’ve been a subscriber to Apex for a while, you probably picked up on how I love a good heist. I don’t like the theft but I enjoy the meticulous planning and execution. Something about a bunch of things lining up tickles the sliver of OCD I have.

I’m less a fan of outright fraud. But I do enjoy reading about elaborate ruses because if those people used their skills “for good,” they probably could make even more than through fraud.

Case in point – have you heard of Rudy Kurniawan? He was the subject of a 2016 documentary “Sour Grapes,” which chronicled the elaborate lengths he went through to forge wine.

A True-Crime Documentary About the Con That Shook the World of Wine [The New Yorker] – “Rudy Kurniawan was a rich twenty-something with a naïve fondness for wine when he first started rubbing elbows with the high rollers at wine auctions, in the early two-thousands—“Just a geeky kid drinking Merlot,” as one veteran collector recalls. But he quickly developed a taste for Burgundy, a far more complex realm of connoisseurship, and was soon spending a million dollars every month on wine, much of it at boozy dinners with luminaries like the wine critic Robert Parker, who found Kurniawan to be a “very sweet and generous man.” Like other wealthy collectors, Kurniawan also sold treasures from his cellar. In 2006, the auction house Acker Merrall & Condit broke records selling off thirty-five million dollars’ worth of his wines.”

Stunning! You can watch the documentary on Netflix.

How fraudsters dupe the art world [The Verge] – “The Civil War-era desk, designed in 1876, looked too good to be true. Ornate, fashioned from walnut, maple, and oak, it was created to honor Union infantryman John Bingham. […] It was also a fake.”

How live-streamed $375k deal for Pokémon cards ended in disaster [The Guardian] – “It had been billed as a record-breaking deal that would make serious investors covet 20-year-old trading cards featuring pictures of cartoon monsters. Instead, a $375,000 (£287,000) cash transaction ended in disaster on Tuesday, when the buyer opened a sealed box that was supposed to be full of rare first-edition Pokémon cards live on YouTube – and found that the contents had been faked.”

“Disaster” is a bit of an overstatement because the buyers never lost their money – they discovered things were amiss on the live stream and kept their money. It’s probably worse for the seller (if you believe he/she wasn’t the perpetrator of the fraud). Still wild though.

Have a great weekend!