If you haven’t read Billionaire’s Vinegar yet, read it. It reads like a whodunnit, telling the true story of the biggest wine fraud in history, the forgery and subsequent sale of “lost” bottles of wine from Thomas Jefferson’s cellar.
A key player in the book is Michael Broadbent, who at the time of the forgeries ran the fine wine department of Christie’s auction house. Broadbent is without question one of the most wine-knowledgeable people in the world. In the book, though, he comes off as just another sucker, played for a fool by a con man who forged the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold in a filthy basement workshop.
Apparently, Mr. Broadbent doesn’t like the way he’s depicted in the book. Though it was published in the United States, he’s suing the author, Benjamin Wallace, in England. English law is more receptive to claims of defamation than American law, since England has no First Amendment.
Broadbent sees this as a matter of honor and denies he’s a fool. Publisher Random House stands by the book, saying, in effect, that Broadbent is, too. Lawyers on both sides have punched the clock and are toting-up billable hours.
The rest of us will just have to stand by and watch.