VALBUENA, Spain (AP) – Two thieves stole 45 bottles of wine from a collection at a prestigious hotel and restaurant complex in southwestern Spain, including an extremely rare 215-year-old bottle worth 350,000 euros ($ 407,000), the owner said. Friday.
According to José Polo, one of the owners of Atrio, a complex comprising a hotel and a two-Michelin-starred restaurant with a cellar with a cellar with more than 40,000 bottles, the theft happened on Wednesday in the early hours.
“They were professionals, they knew exactly what they were doing,” Polo told the Associated Press, a collector who decided to post the robbery in a letter to clients and friends.
The suspects are a man and a woman who spoke English and gave the staff the impression that they were a sophisticated couple who checked into a hotel and had dinner at a restaurant. They then asked a hotel receptionist to serve them more food, and when he went to the kitchen – and left the security camera monitors unattended – the man slipped into the basement and stole the bottles, Polo said.
The couple checked out in the early hours of Wednesday, paid with a credit card and left with bags full of bottles.
Polo said no one noticed their loot, which included the precious 1806 Chateau d’Yquem and at least six other 19th-century bottles by exclusive winemaker Romanée-Conti in the French region of Burgundy. He said he did not calculate the total value of the stolen bottles that were insured, but their symbolic value is even greater.
Polo said the couple could only work for a private wine collector because they only took away bottles that could not be exchanged as well as sold on the open market.
“These bottles are very numbered and controlled. That the 1806 Yquen is unique; everyone knows it’s ours, ”he said, adding that industry connoisseurs would notice if they put them up for sale.
A spokeswoman for the national police in Caceres told the AP that an investigation into the wine robbery had been launched. The police officer, who was not authorized to state the name in media reports, declined to provide further details.
Like art, wine is associated with pleasure and luxury and can sometimes fetch irrational prices, said David Remartínez, a critic of the food and hospitality industry, who added that collectible bottles of decades or centuries old wine are a commodity.
“These are centiliters of liquid that no one is sure can be ingested,” he said.
“These bottles cannot be sold on the public market, but there is a hidden market to replace them,” Remartínez said, adding that Atrio’s places should send a warning to private wine collectors to tighten security measures in their cellars.