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Wine collectors sue chef Charlie Trotter, say $46K bottle is fake

Charlie Trotter (pictured August 2012)  |  Sun-Times Media

Charlie Trotter (pictured in August 2012) | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 16, 2013 6:26AM



Chicago chef Charlie Trotter has been sued by two wine collectors for allegedly selling them a phony — and expensive — bottle of wine.

Bekim and Ilir Frrokaj, wine collectors from New York, claim they paid Trotter $46,227.40 for a fake bottle of 1945 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.

In June 2012, Bekim Frrokaj contacted Trotter’s Lincoln Park restaurant about buying a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. On June 15, Bekim and Ilir traveled to Chicago to negotiate a price over dinner at Trotter’s restaurant, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago on Thursday.

While at dinner, Trotter and the restaurant’s wine expert explained the rarity and value of the wine, and they agreed on the price. The collectors paid $40,000 in cash and the remaining $6,227.40 by credit card, court records show. Two days later, the wine was shipped to New York.

Once he received the wine, Bekim Frrokaj contact his insurance carrier and asked to add the wine to his home insurance policy. The insurer advised him that Domaine de la Romanee-Conti is often counterfeited and that, in order to add the wine to his policy, an expert would need to authenticate it, according to the lawsuit.

Three months later, a wine appraisal and management firm in San Francisco concluded that the bottle was indeed fake and, therefore, worthless, according to the lawsuit.

Trotter and his restaurant company are accused of violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, breach of contract, breach of warranty, and revocation of acceptance.

Bekim and Ilir Frrokaj are seeking more than $75,000 in damages. Their lawyer could not be reached Thursday night.

Trotter could not be reached for comment.



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