One of France's biggest wine collectors has had a lucky escape after gunmen held him hostage and demanded access to thousands of bottles of wine in his cellar.
Michel-Jack Chasseuil shows off his collection of Petrus. Image credit: Getty / AFP
Masked intruders wielding a kalashnikov tricked their way into Michel-Jack Chasseuil‘s property in the village of La Chapelle-Baton in the early hours of Thursday morning last week.
They then held the 72-year-old collector at gunpoint, tied his hands and threatened to kill him unless he gave them access to his cellar of around 40,000 wines, many of them from France’s most renowned estates.
Chasseuil has spent decades amassing his cellar, which he describes in the self-authored book 100 Vintage Treasures: From the World’s Finest Wine Cellar.
‘There were six of them and they kept asking: where is the safe? Where is the safe?’ Chasseuil told France Bleu radio station, after escaping the ordeal with only a broken finger.
The gang had posed as delivery workers to gain access to Chasseuil’s house. Once inside, he was made to sit on the floor while they searched every room.
After failing to find the key to his wine cellar, they demanded that he hand it over. ‘But I said I didn’t have the key. It’s at the bank,’ said Chasseuil, explaining that he fetches the key once-a-month to check on stock and store newly delivered wines.
In the end, the intruders fled with only a few cases of Pomerol wines that were not locked inside the main cellar. Police arrived on the scene by 9am.
‘I am doing fine. Life goes on,’ said Chasseuil, who added that he had been ‘pyschologically prepared’ for the attempted robbery to happen one day.
The local public prosector’s office in Niort, in France’s Poitou-Charentes region, has opened an investigation.
Written by Chris Mercer