Palm Beach Illustrated September 2015

Page 99

that could easily be sold on street corners or from the back of a truck. Supply of the top wines and spirits is finite, and competition to purchase them from legitimate sources is fierce. Some observers compared these events to the famous 1990 art heist at Boston’s Gardner Museum. In that robbery, two men dressed as police officers overpowered security guards and stole 13 paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and Manet. The thieves spent only a few minutes in the museum. They targeted specific works and seemed to know exactly where to find them. The paintings never surfaced on the black market, causing authorities to speculate that they were stolen for a private collector who gave the criminals a shopping list. The rash of wine burglaries conforms to the same pattern; according to British newspaper The Guardian, French detectives believe the wine was stolen to order. If so, we’ve opened the door on a strange new world of bespoke wine theft. It makes perfect sense in practical terms. Say you’re a billionaire collector who fancies 10 cases of 2000 Château Palmer for your cellar. You could buy them at auction (or, more likely, have an agent buy them for you), but it would likely take years to assemble the bunch. You also wouldn’t have an ironclad guarantee of where the wine had been or how it had been stored. You vvv could attempt to piece the 10 cases together from retail sources, but you’d face the same delays and concerns about provenance. Either

It is wise to go right to the producer when buying high-end wines like Champagne Jacques Selosse.

way, you’d have to have the bottles authenticated to avoid counterfeits. The best place to get your five cases of 1989 Palmer is from the château, because you can be assured the wine has never been moved and is in pristine condition—although the château will only sell the wine through traditional distribution channels. Most wine collectors are probably too principled, or too scared, to engage in such practices. If someone offers you a batch of Champagne Jacques Selosse at a bargain price, however, proceed with caution. «

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