Filed under: Wine
The book tells the story of German collector, Rodenstock who had allegedly found rare bottles of Chateau Lafite walled up in a basement in Paris. An 1787 Lafite engraved Th:J sparked worldwide interest because it was thought that Jefferson had bought the bottles when he was in Paris serving as ambassador. Three of the bottles were sold at Christie's, where Broadbent worked, between 1985 and 1987 including the the 1787 Lafite which was bought by Malcolm Forbes for $156,450 fin a 1985 auction.
The billionaire in the title is William Koch who sued Rodenstock claiming that he was the source for four Jefferson bottles that Koch bought in 1988. Those bottles are now believed to be fake. Rodenstock has said that the bottles were genuine but has not submitted them for testing. The book sold well and a Will Smith-produced film of the story is in development. Broadbent told Decanter that the sum he settled for was ''not excessive, but enough to buy a good few cases of wine, and to give something to the wine trade benevolent fund." He also said he was celebrating with a magnum of Mouton 1990 at a dinner he and his wife Daphne held for his legal team at his club, Brooks's in Mayfair. He is considering whether or not to take out an injunction on the film.
Author Benjamin Wallace has defended his book. His statement, published on Dr. Vino, says that Broadbent has "chosen to blame the messenger, and doubly so that he is blaming the messenger for something the messenger is not actually saying." Wallace says that his book never portrayed Broadbent as acting in bad faith. Random House has agreed not to distribute the book in the U.K. but it remains available in the United States and elsewhere.