Bonnie and Clyde raided bank vaults, Priscilla and Constantine preferred a vault. But given the loot value, there isn’t much difference. Moreover, we are talking about the flagship of the Spanish restaurant Atrio, three Michelin stars in Caceres, not far from the border with Portugal: A collection of 40,000 bottles, collected in a 180-page and more wine list where there is no shortage of more than rare and dreamy vertical labels.
A true bible for wine lovers the couple knows well. In fact, before the strike, former Mexican beauty queen Priscilla Guevara and her Romanian-Dutch partner Constantin Dumitru served three dinners at Chef Tonio Perez’s restaurant. Between dishes, they studied the environment and refined the plan. It was the summer of 2021. On October 26th, here they are again at the table. But this time, Priscilla also decides to book a room in the boutique hotel attached to the restaurant and heads out to check in with a fake Swiss passport and an empty backpack. Constantine is waiting for her in the hall. After dinner, they go up to their room together and wait for the right moment.
At 2.10 the woman called the reception and asked to bring the salad to her room as soon as possible. The request surprises the porter, not because of the unusual time in itself, but because the two dine with a 14-course menu. The employee explains that he is alone and cannot leave the entrance unguarded, but at the insistence of the customer, he sends the order to the kitchen. At this point, the partner enters the scene. As the janitor carries the tray into the room, Constantine steals the cellar key from the counter and makes his way into the cellar. There is a bitter surprise: the door does not open.
All that remains is to improvise. Priscilla realizes she is still hungry and calls reception again to ask for dessert. Constantín has a second chance and this time he manages to pull the passage part out of the key stack. Enter the vault and steal 45 bottles worth more than one and a half million euros. It stands out among all a Chateau d’Yquem – a very precious (and very expensive) sweet French wine – vintage 1806, available on the list at €350,000. In order not to risk damaging it—and to prevent anyone from hearing the crackling of the glass—he crammed it into a knapsack and two great bags among four towels stolen from his room.
Three hours after the first phone call, Priscilla completed her check-out and left the hotel with a full backpack on her shoulders. Outside, her companion is waiting for her. Security cameras catch them walking away at a brisk pace. They left a wig in the roomwhich the agents found a few hours later when searching the hotel and restaurant.
Fake hair is not enough. They were stopped nine months later while trying to cross the border between Albania and Croatia. There is no trace of the stolen goods in the sedan where they are traveling or in the luggage. And this is the best line of defense that Constantine himself chose on March 1 before the Spanish magistrates: “If I am the thief, where is the loot”? His lawyer didn’t know how to do it better: “My clients are innocent: 45 bottles don’t fit in two bags.” A matter of sizes, in short.
On the other hand, the Cáceres Court had no doubts and delivered the verdict on Tuesday First Instance: Four years imprisonment for Priscilla, and four years and six months for Constantine, in addition to paying the value of the “jewels” – This is how Chef Perez determined the class – calculated by the four insurance experts: Altogether 753 thousand euros and pennies. The two have already promised to appeal, but will have to wait for the appeal ruling in prison. And who knows if the missing 45 bottles will reappear in the meantime.
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