More than 80 bottles of rare wine disappeared from the cellar of La Tour d’Argent, a renowned restaurant in Paris, according to a complaint filed last week that left investigators scrambling to find the person responsible.
The value of the stolen wine is estimated at 1.5 million euros, said the spokesperson for the Paris prosecutor in a press release. The third division of the Paris judicial police is leading the investigation.
A sommelier noticed the theft of the 83 bottles, which could have taken place between 2020 and 2024, during a routine inventory of the approximately 300,000 bottles of wine present in the restaurant’s cellar, Le Parisien reported. There is no evidence of a break-in at the 442-year-old restaurant, the newspaper reports, specifying that the establishment was closed for renovations between spring 2022 and fall 2023.
Wine thefts of this magnitude are unusual, but not unheard of. In 2011, thieves disabled alarms and security cameras as they stole 400 cases of wine worth £1 million (about $1.6 million at the time). from a London warehouse. A decade later, the owners of a hotel and restaurant in Cáceres, Spain, reported that 45 bottles of wine worth 1.6 million euros (about $1.9 million in 2021) had disappeared from their cellar, including a bottle worth 350,000 euros (around $414,000 at the time). Last year, a Spanish court sentenced a former Mexican beauty queen and her partner to four and a half years in prison for theft, according to El País.
The wine stolen from La Tour d’Argent included bottles from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, one of the most expensive wineries in the world, Le Parisien reported.
A spokeswoman for La Tour d’Argent declined to comment on this theft.
The first iteration of La Tour d’Argent was founded in 1582. Established as an inn serving the lords of King Henry III, it became known as Hostellerie de la Tour d’Argent, or Silver Tower , named after an adjacent castle which was built of silver stone.
King Henry IV, who ascended the throne in 1589 after the murder of Henry III, became a regular at the restaurant. He inaugurated the use of the fork, a utensil little known in France at the time, during a dinner there, according to the restaurant website.
On July 14, 1789, the restaurant was stormed by revolutionaries who attacked the Bastille on the other side of the Seine and confused the restaurant’s coat of arms with those of the royal family.
In 1911, the grandfather of the current owner, André Terrail, bought the restaurant. Shortly after, La Tour d’Argent closed for several years while he fought in World War I, then was reopened upon his return. The restaurant remained open during World War II, but the owners hid their prized bottles of wine behind a brick wall designed to blend in with the other walls, out of sight of the many German customers who frequented the restaurant afterward. the invasion of France by the Nazis.