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Couple sentenced to prison for stealing wine worth P94 million from Michelin-starred restaurant

By Agence France-Presse Published Mar 08, 2023 3:54 pm

A Spanish court has jailed a couple for stealing 45 bottles of wine worth over 1.6 million euros (P94 million) from a hotel restaurant in what police called a "meticulously planned" theft.

A bottle of Chateau D'Yquem 1806 worth 350,000 euros (P20 million) was among the wines stolen from the Atrio hotel in Caceres in southwest Spain in October 2021 in the heist, which made global headlines.

A court in Caceres sentenced the woman to four years in jail and the man to four and a half years, after finding them guilty of burglary with forced entry.

The court also ordered the pair—who were arrested in July 2022 in Croatia—to pay compensation of 753,454 euros (P44 million) to the hotel.

The woman, who according to Spanish press reports is a former Mexican beauty queen, checked into the hotel using a fake Swiss passport, the court said.

After dining in the Michelin three-star restaurant of the hotel, the pair were given a tour of the Atrio's renowned wine cellar before they retired to their room.

At 2:00 a.m., the woman called the reception and asked the "sole employee" who was working at the time to make her a salad, according to the court ruling.

The employee at first denied the request because he was alone and because the couple had eaten a 14-course tasting menu but he ended up agreeing because she kept insisting.

While the employee was preparing the salad, the man slipped into reception and stole an electronic key, which he thought would gain entry to the wine cellar but it was the wrong one.

From outside the wine cellar, the man called his partner and told her once again to distract the receptionist, so she requested some dessert.

"The accused returned to the reception and from a box, he took master key number 27, which he used to open the wine cellar from where he took 45 bottles of wine," the court said.

The man, who reportedly has Romanian and Dutch citizenship, carried the bottles to his room in a rucksack and two large bags before the receptionist returned to his post.

The couple had "meticulously planned" the heist, visiting the restaurant three times to prepare for the raid, Spain's National Police said in a statement when the pair were arrested. (AFP)