Couple jailed for stealing $1.7 million of wine from Michelin-starred restaurant

Mar 7, 2023, 8:19 PM
The couple who stole $1.7 million of wine from a Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant are pictured h...
The couple who stole $1.7 million of wine from a Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant are pictured here in court on March 1. (Carlos Criado/Europa Press/Getty Images via CNN)
(Carlos Criado/Europa Press/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — A couple who stole a haul of wine valued at $1.7 million from a Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant have been sentenced to four years in prison.

The Mexican woman and her boyfriend, a Romanian-Dutch national, left the famed restaurant Atrio, in Caceres, western Spain, carrying 45 bottles of wine wrapped in hotel towels to avoid breakage, and hidden in travel bags, according to the court ruling, issued on Monday and viewed by CNN.

The heist took place on Oct. 27, 2021 and was planned in “minute detail,” officers said at the time of the offense.

The haul included two bottles from the French winery Chateau d’Yquem — one from 1806 that was listed on Atrio’s wine menu for €350,000 ($371,000) and another from 1883 for €45,000. Many other bottles from renowned wineries were from vintages in the 1990s and 2000s, according to the details listed in the ruling by the three-judge panel at the Caceres provincial court.

A court spokesperson told CNN Tuesday the couple could not be named due to privacy reasons.

The couple had visited the restaurant three times in the months preceding the robbery. On the night of the theft, the woman checked in to the adjacent Atrio small luxury hotel using a fake Swiss passport.

Her boyfriend joined her later but did not check in. They then had a 14-course dinner at the restaurant, followed by a guided tour of the wine cellar, it emerged in court.

At about 2 a.m. the woman called the front desk, requesting a salad from room service, and later a dessert. The clerk, who said he was alone at the hotel, finally agreed to the orders, leaving the front desk unmanned. It was during this time that the woman’s boyfriend stole an electronic key from the front desk to open the wine cellar.

The couple left the hotel with the stolen bottles at about 5 a.m. and drove off, the court said. They were eventually arrested on the border of Montenegro and Croatia in July 2022, police said at the time.

None of the wine has been recovered, though the restaurant has been compensated with €753,000 from its insurance company.

The court sentenced the woman to four years in prison and the man to four-and-a-half years for armed robbery. It also ordered them to pay €753,000 in damages.

The Michelin guide currently rates Atrio as a three-star restaurant. But it had only two stars when the theft occurred, a receptionist at the adjacent Atrio small luxury hotel told CNN. She said the restaurant’s owners weren’t commenting on the court’s sentence.

The couple could appeal their sentence to a higher court, the ruling said.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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Couple jailed for stealing $1.7 million of wine from Michelin-starred restaurant