In late October 2021, a crime-worthy robbery caught the attention of an entire country and an industry, namely the hospitality industry. The Atrio restaurant in Extremadura, run by chef Toño Pérez and his partner José Polo, was raided at dawn and its famous winery had what it called “45 jewels” stolen: almost fifty of the more than 40,000 bottles, that were stored in the basement of the house with two Michelin stars. Now, nine months later, the state police announced that they had arrested the alleged thieves, who stole loot worth 1,648,500 euros. Yes, no sign of the bottles at the moment.
The police statement explains that the detainees are a man and a woman – which was already known when the kidnapping took place – and that they were located thanks to coordination with that country’s border police, as well as Europol and Interpol in Croatia, alongside other security forces. As disclosed in their note, both had “great professionalism, specialization and perfect planning of the robbery”; In fact, they visited Atrio up to three times before doing so. Apparently the couple left Spain shortly thereafter and according to police, “their high mobility and roaming prevented them from knowing their exact whereabouts until they were finally found entering Croatia from Montenegro via the Karasovi Sutorina border post”.
José Polo, Atrio’s sommelier, talks over the phone about the great surprise he and Pérez felt when they heard the news. And it wasn’t the police who told him: they found out through the media. “We don’t know anything else,” he admits, “they just told us that tomorrow [por el miércoles] A press conference will be held at 12 noon [en la comisaría de Cáceres]But they didn’t tell us anything.” But while the future return of his bottles – including and most notably one of the 1806 Chateau d’Yquem worth over 310,000 euros – seems far from certain, Polo is pleased with the news. “Of course . At least they were caught and the truth is that I never thought they could be caught, they weren’t Spanish and everything was done so well I never thought they could be caught. It was a job very well done.”
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The 2 alleged perpetrators of one of the most media robberies in recent years have been arrested
— National Police (@Police) July 19, 2022
Toño Pérez told this newspaper last October that he was “deadly, very sad” because it was not a “money issue” but that these wines were part of his “story” and his “life”. Both also said in a letter to the media that this Chateau d’Yquem from the 19 Atrio, but also from Cáceres, from its citizens, from all lovers of the world of wine; she is the bottle, impossible to replace because of the effort, sacrifice and love for a profession and for wine. 215 years of Spanish history, wars, times of peace and building a united Europe”. Polo and Pérez – a professional and sentimental tandem for four decades – bought the bottle in 2000; in 2001 and after an accident it was broken but its contents could be recovered. It wasn’t the only one with tradition: another six dated from the 19th century. The 38 stolen bottles of Romanée Conti were also conspicuous: “There are only 3,500 bottles a year; There is no more. It’s a tedious task to get them,” Polo explained. The average price of each of them in the Atrio menu is 12,000 euros.
What happened is worth a movie. On the night of October 27, after making a reservation, a couple consisting of a man and a woman went to the Atrio, which is not only a restaurant but also a hotel belonging to the Relais & Châteaux chain. “They spoke English,” Polo recalled last fall. After dinner they visited the wine cellar as usual and went to their room, although only the woman who had booked was announced. After one in the morning they called room service and ordered something to eat; They were told the kitchen was closed but if they wanted a salad they would bring it. “We believe that at that moment they went down, opened two doors with electronic locks, with the lights off, and took 45 jewels,” Polo then explained. “At five in the morning the same couple came down with bags, paid and went out the door.”
Last March, Polo and Pérez entered into an agreement with their insurance company, the final amount of which has not been disclosed, since they have signed a confidentiality clause that allows them to disclose the amount received or the fees or the company with which they have contracted. can not disclose . More puzzles for the novel.