Wine is only as good as the people with whom it is being shared.
Wine Heist At Famous Paris Restaurant Worthy Of Arsène Lupin

Wine Heist At Famous Paris Restaurant Worthy Of Arsène Lupin

This just in! Some grands crus have recently vanished from a famous restaurant located in the heart of Paris, France: La Tour d’Argent. A discrete, not to mention spectacular wine heist has left the authorities without a lead. Could this be a plot for the third season of the coveted Netflix show LUPIN? No sir, this is very real and it happened just a few weeks ago in one of the most prestigious wine cellars in the world.

Wine Heist At Famous Paris Restaurant Worthy Of Arsène Lupin

La Tour d’Argent, Paris – Deliciously Chic!

La Tour d'Argent – Paris, France
Image Source & Credits – Courtesy of La Tour d’Argent

For those of you who don’t know La Tour d’Argent, here is a quick blurb about one the most coveted restaurants in Paris. La Tour d’Argent is a restaurant, it’s a bar, it’s a roof top, it’s an apartment, and of course… It’s a wine cellar. La Tour d’Argent (The Silver Tower) was built in the year 1582, and was named after the stone with which it was originally built. In the 16th century, the restaurant catered toward royalties and aristocrats such as King Henry IV, providing a safe place for the elite to dine. In more recent years, the restaurant was regularly frequented by Queen Elizabeth II, Theodore Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin and Bill Clinton.

My wife’s uncle, Louis, worked at La Tour d’Argent shortly after the end of the second world war, and before being drafted for the Algerian war. He worked there as a waiter and had many stories to tell, most of which always evolved around the sheer discipline and work ethic that was required to work in a place like this.

Fun fact: La Tour d’argent is the restaurant that inspired the Disney classic movie Ratatouille. But don’t worry, the actual historical Parisian restaurant sits on the sixth floor of the tower, making it much harder for Remi and Emile to roam the kitchen’s floors at night. In all seriousness, the restaurant’s Michelin star pretty much says it all.

The Restaurant

La Tour d'Argent – Paris, France | Seasonal Duckling
Image Source & Credits – Courtesy of La Tour d’Argent

Overlooking the Seine river and across the way from Île Saint-Louis, you can enjoy an exquisite 4 course lunch for nearly $250. But that’s not all! You can also choose to rejoice in a 9 course meal and pair some of the rarest wines for a mere $1,500 (per person). Oh and before you get too excited, the wine will cost you extra. Now, I know what you’re thinking… It’s way too expensive. Maybe, but where else do you get to take home an embossed card with the serial number of the duck you just ate? I mean, that’s pretty special.

The Apartment

La Tour d'Argent – Paris, France | The Apartment
Image Source & Credits – Courtesy of La Tour d’Argent

Though your credit card might get quickly denied, feel free to drink your heart out and choose to spend the night at La Tour d’Argent’s lavish apartment. The restaurant has recently opened up its fifth-floor apartment, with a breathtaking view of the notorious Notre-Dame Cathedral. What a lovely way to spend a night in Paris after a scrumptiously refined serial-numbered meal. However, you’ll need to factor in a certain budget, with nightly rates starting at $2,500. I wonder if breakfast is included? It probably is, I say optimistically.

The Wine Cellar

La Tour d'Argent – Paris, France | The Wine Cellar
Image Source & Credits – Courtesy of La Tour d’Argent

And now, the wine cellar! Many people have this fantasy to stay stuck in a mall after the doors have closed and everyone has gone home. I have it… But with a wine cellar, more specifically the cellar of La Tour d’Argent. I have been in many wine cellars in my life but there’s something special about that one. From collector’s items to great vintages and confidential cuvées, la Tour d’Argent’s historical wine cellar hosts about 300,000 wine bottles, all ranging from $100 to $50,000.

I have yet to use the line – Garçon, we will have your most expensive bottle from the wine list! – Well, you don’t say that at La Tour d’Argent unless you really mean it! And speaking of the wine list, it is the size of an old-fashioned telephone book! That’s a lot of wine patiently waiting to be served, unless of course someone steals it first…

La Tour d’Argent – The Wine Heist Of The Decade

During the second World War and the German occupation, the restaurant’s owners had built a wall to hide and secure the oh-so precious wine collection. I bet the current owners wish they had built it again before the wine heist that took place in January.

According to police and expert reports, nearly 80 bottles of grand cru wines simply vanished from the restaurant’s wine cellar. Whoever took the missing bottles walked away with an estimated amount of one million dollars! Furthermore, the culprits must have known the location quite well. Reports show that they did not use any force to enter the restaurant, nor did they break in the wine cellar. Management only found out about the missing bottles while conducting a simple inventory check. Oops!

Wine Heist Palooza

Sadly, those robberies have become a pattern and they seem to have increased in volume and value of looted goods. Judiciary expert and wine connoisseur Aymeric de Clouet confirms that the location was the perfect target for such heist. The cellar carefully shelters many coveted wines, such as Romanée Conti and Pétrus to only cite a few.

Head Sommelier Victor Gonzalez oversees the cellar’s preservation and development. Following in the footsteps of his predecessor of 40 years David Ridgway, Victor Gonzalez is the protector and guardian of many hidden treasures. Due to the rarity of many bottles in the wine cellar, management have been in a habit of stamping every single bottle that is stored in the cellar, making them a lot harder to resell on the black market.

Can The Stolen Wine Be Bought On The Black Market?

Yes, but not really. No one would buy a stolen bottle of Romanée Conti. I know I wouldn’t for ethical and moral reasons, nor could I anyway. A wine of that stature can only be purchased directly from the domain, and a certificate of authenticity comes with it. The risk of getting caught for the seller and the buyer is far too high. Cécilia Trimaille, an Oenologist and Property Director of Château Dauzac-Labarde said during an interview: “Romanée Conti is a limited production, making it more desirable on the black market, but not for resell purposes. Someone with a lot of money and low standards can contract those heists, and distribute the stolen goods to unscrupulous people across the four corners of the world, making it nearly impossible to trace.”

How Do We Stop These Robberies?

Well, we don’t. All we can do is make it harder for those heist crew members to achieve their goal. In addition to stamping the bottles with a serial number, many restaurant owners have installed security cameras in their wine cellar, in addition to alarm systems that directly alerts the authorities in case of a break in. I would assume that La Tour d’Argent would have such system in place, because it would be pretty foolish not to. Regardless, I bet they do now! If I had a wine cellar with wine bottles worth fifty thousand dollars each, I’d install Mission Impossible grade security in that joint ;)

Should You Invest In Wine Security?

Well that depends… Wine security is one thing, wine insurance is another. I personally have security in and around my house, so my wine collection is “secured” by default. All that said, my wine collection does not grant such security, but I often wonder if I should insure it. I live in Southern California and California homes generally don’t have basements; mine doesn’t. Therefore, my wine cellar is electric. What if the power goes out for a long period of time in the middle of summer? What if we get a large earthquake? Should I get wine insurance? Should you? I will be releasing an article on wine insurance in a few weeks. Stay tuned and keep pondering ;)


Wine Ponder Logo – Grape Only

We don’t spam! We only send one email a week to brighten up your Thursday mornings. And unlike our wine, your address will never be shared ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *