Thieves Steal Nearly $200K of Wine from Michelin-Starred Spanish Restaurant’s Cellar

"Some of the stolen bottles belonged to my grandfather from very old vintages such as 1925 or 1936," the restaurant’s sommelier said.

Entrance to chef Mario Sandoval's restaurant Coque in Madrid
Entrance to chef Mario Sandoval's restaurant Coque in Madrid. Photo:

Europa Press News / Getty Images

During tough economic times, wine has proven to be a resilient investment. Last December, analysts at Liv-ex even pointed out that wine had recently been a better investment than gold. That may help explain why we continue to see the cellars of fine dining establishments being targeted for theft, including a recent Fort Knox-like break-in at a Michelin two-starred restaurant in Spain.

This past Sunday, thieves reportedly broke into the Coque de Madrid located in the Spanish capital and made off with 132 bottles of wine valued at over $190,000. Those responsible apparently knew what they were doing: The pharmacy next door to the acclaimed restaurant from Chef Mario Sandoval had recently shut down, which helped them gain access, and they struck on a day the restaurant was closed, knowing that it wouldn't be open again until Tuesday — which is when the restaurant finally realized what had happened.

Additionally, of the approximately 25,000 bottles stored in the cellar — which is referred to as "the scarcity" because of the rarity of much of the collection — only the best bottles were stolen, according to The Times, leading some to speculate an insider may have been involved. "They were very precise," a police source was quoted as saying by the El País newspaper.

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"I don't know whether the insurance will cover this but it won't cover the sentimental aspect of things," said Rafael Sandoval, the restaurant's sommelier and one of the three brothers who co-own the establishment, according to The Drinks Business. "We are very concerned and hurt by what happened, not because of an economic issue, but because some of the stolen bottles belonged to my grandfather from very old vintages such as 1925 or 1936. There were bottles that have passed from generation to generation and that not even the wineries themselves have. We are very bitter about losing these bottles that we held so dear."

The thieves reportedly initially tried to enter the cellar through a hole they had made in the shuttered pharmacy, but when that plan failed, they accessed a shared courtyard and broke glass to gain access, according to The Olive Press. Added Sandoval, "These people could have robbed the bank of Spain."

This time last year, another Spanish restaurant made international headlines for a similar incident: The Michelin two-starred Atrio restaurant and hotel in Caceres had about $1.6 million in wine stolen out of its cellar by a couple who was staying on the premises.

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