EXCLUSIVE: Level 1 Entertainment, which had set Michael Steinberger’s wine counterfeiting Vanity Fair article A Vintage Crime as a dramatic feature, is being rebottled. The story will be told as a documentary to be helmed by Barry Avrich. His docus include The Last Mogul on Lew Wasserman, Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story and Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life Of Garth Drabinsky.
A Vintage Crime focuses on the exploits of wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan, who drove the elite and secretive world of rare-wine collectors into a frenzy with his extravagant showmanship and record-setting deals. Kurniawan conned the biggest players in the fine wine market, including prominent tycoons and entertainment moguls, before he made the mistake that ultimately led to his arrest and the discovery of a wine counterfeiting factory in his suburban Los Angeles home. Charged with mail and wire fraud in connection with the sale of fake rare wines, Kurniawan was convicted in a Manhattan federal court last month and is now facing up to 40 years in jail.
“From the moment we first read Michael’s article,” commented Level 1, “we knew it was that rare combination of a view into a glamorous and seductive world, a compelling mystery and a portrait of a fascinating character in Rudy Kurniawan,” said Level One’s Bill Todman Jr. “For us the challenge was finding the best venue to tell this story. Ultimately, we felt we should capture it as it all really happened and that Barry Avrich is the ideal documentary filmmaker for that.”
Said Avrich: “Michael’s piece has all the elements that attract me to a project; a complex and controversial lead character, a storyline with many twists and turns and an opportunity to delve deeply into a world that few are privileged to be a part of.”
Production is underway, as a co-production between Level 1 and Melbar Entertainment Group, with Todman, Jr., Michael Steinberger and Paul Nagle exec producing. Avrich wrote, produces and directs. Level 1′s credits include Rendition, Grandma’s Boy and Strange Wilderness.