The wine-thieving lovebirds responsible for the $1.7 million heist at El Atrio restaurant in Cáceres, Spain, received their sentences for aggravated robbery in a Spanish court earlier this month: 4 years in prison and an $800,000 fine.
It took nine months for Interpol and law enforcement in five countries to track down the culprits, Priscila Lara Guevara, 29, and Constantín Dumitru, 47. Guevara received a four-year prison sentence and Dumitru is looking at four-plus years behind bars.
The heist took place in October 2021. Guevara checked in using a false Swiss passport, carrying only a backpack. Dumitru joined her for dinner at 8 p.m.
Before retiring to her room, they visited El Atrio’s famous wine cellars, as many guests do, and as they had already done on three previous visits, casing their target, according to Spanish police.
Dumitru, a Romanian-Dutch national, entered the cellars with a keycard stolen from reception while Guevara, a former Mexican Miss Earth beauty contestant, kept the night manager distracted.
Shortly after 2 a.m., she requested room service (even though the two had already enjoyed the restaurant’s 14-course tasting menu just hours earlier). The kitchen was closed, but Guevara fussed enough that the night manager went to the kitchen to make her a salad, affording Dumitru the opportunity to steal an access card from the front desk. It just wasn’t the access card for the wine cellar.
Holding three empty bags and facing a locked cellar door and imminent discovery, Dumitru called Guevara, who rang reception again, this time for dessert. The exasperated clerk, who also had the job of keeping an eye on the security cameras, fetched her some fruit, which is when Dumitru is believed to have found a master keycard and gained access to El Atrio’s wine cellar.
Hotel security footage shows Dumitru lugging two now-full sports bags and the obviously heavy backpack when the couple checked out just after 5 a.m. Later that morning, one of the sommeliers on staff discovered that 45 bottles of rare wine were missing, including a vertical of Yquem going back to 1806 and dozens of bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet.
Following the heist, Dumitru and Guevara disappeared. They were finally nabbed this past July by Croatian border guards as they were crossing the border with Montenegro. Spanish police posted a video on social media of the pair being escorted back to Madrid Aug. 3.
In a court appearance on March 1, Dumitru denied having stolen the wine, and retorted, “If I am the thief, then where have I put the bottles?”
And that remains the $1.7 million question. None of the wines have been recovered.
El Atrio owner José Polo says the bottles were specifically targeted, because they were spread out in different areas of the cellar. "What I think is that [the theft] was ordered by a private collector," he told Wine Spectator in November 2021.
So if you find yourself in the showpiece wine cellars of any suspected supervillains in the near future, be on the lookout for Polo’s prized ex-possession: that bottle of 1806 Yquem, signed by Yquem cellarmaster Sandrine Garbay and dated “1/25/2001.”
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