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‘Undrinkable’ record collection of Bordeaux stolen

A rare £300k collection of top Bordeaux wines stolen by professional thieves from a Swedish restaurant is ‘undrinkable’ say the owners.

Ulriksdals Wärdshus, the restaurant whose collection of 600 bottles of First Growth Bordeaux was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as one of the most complete, was raided on the night of 22-23 July. News of the heist was not made public until this month.

The collection (pictured) consisted of one bottle from each of the five First Growths (Chateaux Lafite, Latour, Haut-Brion, Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild) and the top Sauternes Chateau d’Yquem for every vintage from 1900 to 2000.

‘They did not take any of the cheaper wines. They were real professionals,’ Lars Fagerlund, restaurant manager, told decanter.com. ‘We have no leads. So far, the police did not find any prints, aside from a single shoe print.’

The thieves cut telephone lines and removed surveillance videos to cover their tracks before making off with the wines.

According to Fagerlund, the collection is valued at around £290,000 (US$548,000). The most expensive bottle taken was a 1945 Lafite Rothschild, worth nearly £4,000 (US$7,560).

Although restaurant administrator Lilian Finell confirmed that the collection was insured, she said its real value lay in its comprehensiveness.

‘The wine was not for sale, it was more of a museum attraction. Most of it is undrinkable,’ she said.

Christie’s and Sotheby’s auctioneers in London said they have not been approached, nor would they take on any bottles whose legal provenance could not be verified. Both indicated that unless a collection of such wine is in perfect, drinkable condition, it would be of little value to most collectors.

‘People don’t tend to buy collections like they used to,’ said Stephen Mould, head of Sotheby’s European wine department. ‘And buying the whole thing at once defeats the thrill for most collectors. The thieves will find it difficult to sell through legitimate channels. Beyond that, though, it could end up anywhere from here to Timbuktu.’

Fagerlund said the bottles had all been photographed and some were numbered, making selling on the open market ‘difficult’.

David Elswood, International Head of Christie’s wine department, thought the wine had probably been stolen to order.

‘While none of these bottles are unique, the rarity lies in the collection,’ he said. ‘People willing to pay big money for wine want there to be a chance that it’s drinkable. You might get a new buyer in Russia or Asia who thinks it has novelty value, but it’s a small wine world and you couldn’t just put an ad in the paper for this.’

Written by Panos Kakaviatos and Maggie Rosen

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