Couple Sentenced in $1.7M Wine Heist

They made off with 45 bottles from luxury hotel in Spain
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2022 4:43 PM CDT
Updated Mar 6, 2023 4:41 PM CST
Arrests Made in Wine Heist Planned in 'Millimetric Detail'
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Silberkorn)
UPDATE Mar 6, 2023 4:41 PM CST

A former Mexican beauty queen and her Romanian-Dutch partner have been sentenced to four years in prison for stealing wine worth $1.7 million from a luxury hotel in Spain—but the fate of the wine is still a mystery. Prosecutors said Priscila Guevara and Constantín Dumitru made off with 45 bottles of wine, including a 217-year-old bottle of Château d’Yquem worth almost $375,000, in a meticulously planned heist at the Atrio hotel in western Spain in October 2021, the Guardian reports. They have been ordered to pay around $800,000 to insurers, reports the BBC. None of the stolen wine was recovered after their arrest in Croatia in July last year.

Jul 20, 2022 4:43 PM CDT

It's being called the "theft of the century," at least in the vinophile sphere. But authorities appear to have finally caught their suspects after a long-haul chase across Europe that involved both Interpol and Europol law enforcement agencies. Police say that a man and woman were arrested in Croatia nine months after 45 bottles of rare French wines worth more than $1.6 million were lifted from an esteemed eatery in Caceres, Spain, reports the Guardian. Police say the couple stayed in October 2021 at the boutique hotel Atrio, which houses a two-Michelin-star restaurant, and planned their heist in "millimetric detail," per the Times of London.

According to authorities, the woman used a phony Swiss passport to book them a room at the hotel, and then they visited the restaurant at least three times to get the lay of the land, even touring the restaurant's wine cellar. On their final visit to the restaurant, the woman allegedly chatted up a kitchen staffer and requested a meal, even though the kitchen was closed—but that was merely a distraction, police say, so that the man could reenter the wine cellar using a previously stolen key and fill three backpacks with wine bottles. The backpacks were "stuffed with hotel towels to protect the bottles," Spain's national civilian police force says, per the Guardian.

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They were said to have fled the hotel in the early morning hours with the wine in tow, and then spent the next few months traveling around Europe "so much that it was hard for officers to keep up," the Guardian notes. Thanks to cooperative policing, however, the suspects were finally cornered this month near the Croatia-Montenegro border, where it was discovered the man also had two outstanding arrest warrants against him out of Madrid. One of Atrio's co-owners, meanwhile doesn't believe they worked alone: He says that he thinks a rich private collector must have been behind the heist, as one of the stolen wine bottles was so renowned that a sale would've sent up a red flag to the authorities. (More wine stories.)

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