I should have a look at it, however, as I know the market better than pretty much anyone in this world:
- ALL Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium described since the 80's came from smugglers. There is no known exception to that absolute rule. After, it was to the botanical gardens or individuals to accept it, and describe it, sustaining their job, the amount of species per year they were describing to sustain their position in some botanical gardens or institutions, or even their position in the orchid world, or to refuse it, and go down to the black sink. Some 'taxonomists' that are very famous only describe new species to attract customers to sell plants. They then make a link between a nursery and the people who contacted them, and take a good profit on the way. I know at least one that earned most of his money like that, and I know it personally.
- Some others ( like phragmipedium peruvianum as an example...) just bought the plants from a collector, and described it afterwards. I do not see, myself, any difference between those two groups of people, except that Kovach brought out the plant to USA, where the others left it in Peru, however both were wild collected by a professional collector... The damage to the wild would be equal in both cases.
- The kovachii was illegally imported to the USA, that's true. If we are talking about psychotic people who care only about paperwork, it is definitely correct. However I do not see, again, any difference between a wild collected plant smuggled, and a wild collected plant precultivated, laundered, then imported with a CITES, like those blooming size kovachii sold in the USA lately.
The damage to the wild is the same, except that it makes CITES look like fools. The problem being too that most people do believe that 'fair and honest' and 'legal' are the same thing, where there is a wide array of shades in between. What is legal ( dozen of tons of wild orchids sent with CITES and all the proper paperwork to China for traditional medicine) is not always fair, and what is fair and ethic in a way (smuggling a plant and propagating it, like all the mexipedium and sanderianum so far...) is not always legal.
- There has never been any kovachii for sale at 10.000USD. At the very same time the plant of kovachii entered Selby, Manuel Arias was offering a new pink phrag for 100USD. All of his customers interested in phrags got his handwritten fax, including me, and many other nurseries. So, unless you took a crazy fool, all the players knew it was easy to buy, and not expensive.
- The only massive collections for trade have been performed by nurseries in Peru and Ecuador, apart from one that landed in Taiwan ( and died, as it was too hot). There has never been big quantities of kovachii in Europe, or Japan, or the USA, 'stored for sale', that's a lie... Now, the quantity brought by Kovach was apparently ridiculous, we are talking about one or maybe a handful of plants, which is way lower than the amount of wild kovachii illegally traded, then legally traded after being laundered, by one famous nursery in Peru... which is funnily respected for their efforts to protect that species. Go figure...