LONDON — Louis Vuitton has denied allegations that its Changsha boutique in China has sold a fake bag to a customer.
A legal document disclosed online last week revealed that the French luxury house was ordered earlier this year by the local court of Furong district of Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan, to compensate a customer who bought a Vaugirard handbag and a small accessory last September for 22,350 renminbi, or $3,350, from the brand’s boutique in luxury shopping mall Changsha IFS. The bag was later authenticated by a third party as fake.
On top of returning the amount of money the customer spend on the brand, Vuitton was ordered to pay an additional three times the amount of the bag, which was 67,050 renminbi, or $10,050, as a compensation.
In a statement sent to local media, Vuitton said it has appealed the decision. It confirmed that the brand has settled with the customer as it respected the Chinese court order, but it denied that the brand has ever sold any fake goods through its own retail network, and it never agreed that bag which later turned out to be fake was sold from Louis Vuitton.
In the verdict, the court said Vuitton did not submit evidence to prove that the customer was a professional extortioner for fraud-fighting, while the customer submitted a shopping receipt and payment records, which could confirm that the bag was purchased from the store on that day.
A legal expert told the local press that Vuitton has the obligation to prove that it has delivered an authentic item to the consumer, and the store can also provide evidence of the sale of goods such as surveillance footage to prove that they delivered a real item. If the brand can not submit the evidence, it would bear the risk of losing the case.
The expert added that based on the triple compensation ruling, the court found that Vuitton had fraudulent behavior of selling counterfeit goods. If the brand is not satisfied with the judgment of the first instance, it can appeal within 15 days from the receipt of the judgment. If Vuitton is still not satisfied with the judgment of the second trial, the brand can also apply for trial supervision and continue to insist on its claims.
The topic of Louis Vuitton allegedly selling fake bags became a trending topic across Chinese social media over the weekend, and many authentication centers reported a surge in business as a result. Some suggested that the customer might have switched the bag, while some suspected that this was an inside job.
If that’s the case, it won’t be the first time that Vuitton uncovers a mole in China. Back in 2020, the brand uncovered a counterfeit case involving a sales representative at the Louis Vuitton Guangzhou store, who at the time was knowingly selling yet-to-be-released bags to counterfeit makers at a higher price so that the criminal gangs can sell the fake bags at the same time that the real bags are released, or even earlier, while she makes a profit from it.
WWD has reached out to Louis Vuitton for further comments.