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 who was responsible.
The stolen wine was worth an estimated 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million), the Paris prosecutor’s spokeswoman said in a statement. The third division of the Paris Judicial Police is overseeing the investigation.
A sommelier noticed the theft of the 83 bottles, which could have taken place between 2020 and 2024, during a routine inventory check of the roughly 300,000 bottles of wine in the restaurant’s cellar, Le Parisien reported. There was no evidence of forced entry into the 442-year-old restaurant, the newspaper reported, adding that the establishment was closed for renovation between the spring of 2022 and the fall of 2023.
Wine thefts of this scale are unusual, but not unheard-of. In 2011, robbers disabled security alarms and security cameras as they stole 400 cases of wine worth 1 million British pounds (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) went missing from their cellar, including a bottle worth 350,000 euros (about $414,000 at the time). A court in Spain last year sentenced a former Mexican beauty queen and her partner to four and a half years in prison for the 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 wine estates in the world, Le Parisien reported.
A spokeswoman for La Tour d’Argent declined to comment on the theft.
The first iteration of La Tour d’Argent was founded in 1582. Established as an inn that served the lords of King Henry III, it became known as the Hostellerie de la Tour d’Argent, or silver tower, after an adjacent château that was built of silvery stone.
King Henry IV, who ascended the throne in 1589 after the murder of Henry III, became a regular. He inaugurated the use of the fork, a little known utensil in France at the time, over a dinner there, according to the restaurant’s website.
On July 14, 1789, the restaurant was stormed by revolutionaries who had attacked the Bastille on the other side of the Seine and had mistaken the restaurant’s coat of arms for that of the royal family.
In 1911, the grandfather of the current owner, André Terrail, purchased the restaurant. Shortly after, La Tour d’Argent closed for several years while he fought in World War I, then was reopened when he returned. The restaurant stayed open during World War II, but the owners hid their most prized wine bottles behind a brick wall that was designed to blend in with other walls, out of sight from the many German patrons who frequented the restaurant after the Nazis invaded France.
In 2010, Mr. Terrail, the third generation of the family that has owned La Tour d’Argent, auctioned off 18,000 bottles of wine and spirits from the cellar. The sale added more than 1.5 million euros (about $1.6 million) to the restaurant’s bottom line.