Wine snobs across the nation can breathe a bit easier today knowing that one of the men behind the infamous 2014 Christmas day French Laundry heist has pleaded guilty to his involvement. The Chronicle reports that the Modesto man acknowledged his role in the theft of 110 bottles of vino valued at approximately $550,000 and the subsequent shipping of 63 bottles to North Carolina for sale.
While 44-year-old Davis Kiryakoz's escapades were brazen enough, he had reportedly set his sights even higher — initially eying $870,000 worth of the good stuff for pilfering. Kiryakoz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport stolen goods, while charges are still pending against a second alleged conspirator from Mountain View, Alfred Georgis.
As previously reported, thieves made their way into Chef Thomas Keller’s Napa Valley restaurant the first day of a six-month closure two years ago. The building was set to be remodeled, and the security alarm on the wine cellar was mysteriously disabled. According to the Associated Press, whoever burglarized the place knew what they were doing — stealing verticals of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (which can run up to $10,000 per bottle) and Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (selling for up to $6,000 per bottle).
This was possibly not Kiryakoz's first booze-theft rodeo. Prosecutors allege he also conspired to rip off a steakhouse and a wine dealer of their assorted vintages. But whatever his relevant experience, Kiryakoz's follow through on the crime left something to be desired. The stolen bottles were likely marked with serial numbers, and the North Carolina buyer reportedly realized they were stolen sometime after receiving them and consequently stopped making payments. He or she then returned the (unopened) bottles to the restaurant.
Kiryakoz is set to be sentenced this March.