Christie's wine expert wins apology over 1787 Lafite Thomas Jefferson bottle sale
Michael Broadbent, the former director of Christie's wine department, accepted a public apology on Thursday over claims that he behaved unprofessionally in the auction a bottle of Lafite said to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson, the American president.
The 1787 bottle sold at Christie's in London 24 years ago for £105,000, which remains a record sum. The dusty - and likely undrinkable - bottle of wine derives its value from the etched initials "Th.J" on its side, which suggested, it was claimed, that it had belonged to the man who later became America's third president.
The authenticity of the bottle, and others from the same batch, has been hotly debated over the past few decades, with many suggesting that they are fake - challenging the expertise of oenophiles who testified to their authenticity, and leaving collectors angry.
This week Mr Broadbent, who authenticated the Lafite and presided over its auction, won an apology and damages following libel proceedings at London's High Court against Random House, publisher of The Billionaire's Vinegar. The book, which explores the provenance of a number of bottles said to have been owned by Jefferson, contained a number of untrue allegations, Mr Broadbent's solicitor, Sarah Webb, told Mr Justice Eady.
These were that Mr Broadbent had behaved in an unprofessional manner in the way he auctioned some of the bottles, and that his relationship and dealings with Hardy Rodenstock, the German dealer who discovered them, was suspected of being improper.
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