Nicolas DeMeyer was expected in Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday to plead guilty to stealing more than $1.2 million worth of rare wines from a wealthy financier — but there was no sign of the 41-year-old as the scheduled court appearance came and went.
As his lawyers waited, the 41-year-old had stripped naked and was sitting on a window sill on the 33rd floor of the famed Carlyle Hotel, and when concerned hotel staff breached the room, DeMeyer went tumbling to his death.
Leap of faith
Authorities say that DeMeyer contacted his sister with threats to end his own life over the court case, prompting his sibling to contact law enforcement.
“I can’t go to jail,” he told her over the phone.
Hotel security forced open the door to his room soon after, and DeMeyer grinned at his intruders before leaping to his death. His body reportedly struck a 17th floor balcony during his fall.
DeMeyer was an art history student who found work as a household assistant to Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon. The multi-millionaire wine connoisseur tasked his employee with transporting his stock of vintage wines from Manhattan to East Hampton, where Solomon kept a large wine cellar.
Instead of shuttling the vino across the state, though, DeMeyer determined to steal more than 500 bottles from his employer’s collection and sell them under an alias. And he might have got away with it, too, if he didn’t happen to sell seven bottles of wine from the French estate Domaine de la Romanée-Conti — a collection of spirits so valuable that court papers identified DeMeyer’s take as “among the best, most expensive, and rarest wines in the world.”
In fact, bottles of the wine have sold in excess of $133,000, a price tag that was sure to attract attention. A Napa Valley art dealer interested in purchasing the wine traced the collection back to Solomon and alerted law enforcement, thus bringing an end to DeMeyer’s short-lived career as a black market wine dealer.
“In October of 2016, a Napa Valley wine dealer purchased seven bottles of particularly rare Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wine through Wine Liquidators, the dealer that the defendant was selling the victim’s wine to,” prosecutors explained. They went on:
The Napa Valley dealer was able to determine, based on the label, because the wine is so rare, essentially who had imported and distributed the wine, and he was able to trace that back to the victim, and he suspected that it might be stolen. He contacted the victim’s wine broker, and he confirmed that they were, in fact, stolen.
Federal authorities said that DeMeyer had some fun before his booze-funded caper came to an end. A jet-setting DeMeyer visited European capitals like Rome and Casablanca before police caught up with him at New York’s JFK International Airport.
DeMeyer had left the country after he found out that detectives were on to his scheme, and he met privately with Mr. Solomon and his wife to come clean about the wine theft and agree to make restitution. The Solomons were willing to work with him, but DeMeyer decided to flee the country instead, paying $5,300 to purchase a one-way ticket to Rome.
DeMeyer only came home after a boyfriend in Los Angeles offered him a job, since he couldn’t find meaningful work overseas. By the time the thief was scheduled to make his first court appearances in the case, he was so financially broke that the court had to pay his way from Ohio to New York to receive justice.