Rare Wine, Fake Name

Goldman Sachs C.E.O.’s personal assistant indicted

An investigation that began with a call to the East Hampton Village police on Nov. 2, 2016, from an estate on Middle Lane ended with the arrest by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation of a Manhattan man at Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 16. 

Nicolas De-Meyer, 40, was charged with one count of transporting stolen property across state lines. The alleged victim was David M. Solomon, president and co-chief executive operating officer of Goldman Sachs, the multinational finance company. The property in question were bottles of rare wine, including pinot noir from France’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, producer of some of the world’s most expensive vintages. 

More charges may be in the offing. East Hampton Village Detective Sgt. Greg Brown said Monday that the investigation is ongoing.

A warrant for Mr. De-Meyer’s arrest was issued out of federal court in Manhattan on Sept. 29, 2017. Mr. De-Meyer was out of the country at the time. 

While the indictment does not name Mr. Solomon, The New York Times and other news agencies have confirmed with Goldman Sachs that Mr. Solomon was, indeed, the alleged victim. 

According to the indictment, Mr. De-Meyer’s responsibilities, working as Mr. Solomon’s personal assistant from approximately 2008 until November 2016, included receiving shipments of wine at Mr. Solomon’s New York residence and transporting them to a wine cellar at the Middle Lane house. In the course of performing this duty, the indictment says, Mr. De-Meyer pilfered rare wines valued at a total of $1.2 million.

He did so, allegedly, using the alias “Mark Miller” — a name that oenophiles recognized as that of a well-known vintner who pioneered wine-making in the Hudson Valley and died in 2008. Mr. De-Meyer, as Miller, sold the rare wines, the indictment says, to a North Carolina dealer he had found online, diverting the delivery to his own Manhattan apartment, where the dealer or an agent for the dealer would pick them up.

The plot thickened yesterday when it was reported in The Weekly Standard that it is likely Nicolas De-Meyer’s name was not actually Nicolas 

De-Meyer. A reporter for the online journal found that name and more than a dozen similar ones (including Nickolas Vonmeyer and Nicola Demeyer) linked in a database to a single Social Security number belonging to a 40-year-old Vassar graduate from Findlay, Ohio, named Nickolas Meyer. The name also has echoes in New York City history: Nicolas De Meyer served twice as the city’s mayor in the 1670s. Be that as it may, the indictment and police records are under the name Nicolas De-Meyer.

Although the value of all the bottles that Mr. Solomon told law enforcement had gone missing under Mr. De-Meyer’s care was $1.2 million, the indictment focuses on one transaction in 2016 valued at $133,650, which occurred shortly before East Hampton Village police were contacted in that fall. The indictment

states that the goods in this transaction, specifically, were seven bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Domaine de la Romanee Conti is considered the finest producer of Bourgogne wine, with appellation d’origine contrôlée names including Montrachet, La Tache, Grands Echezeaux, and, of course, Domaine de la Romanée Conti. Depending upon the appellation and vintage year, a single bottle can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. 

After the seven bottles were picked up in October of 2016 by the dealer or an agent for the dealer, they were split up, some being shipped to New Jersey, others to California, a circumstance that apparently prompted East Hampton Village police to contact the F.B.I., as causing the transportation of stolen goods across state lines is a federal crime. It appears from the indictment that the dealer had no knowledge that he was handling stolen property.

According to the F.B.I., Mr. De-Meyer fled the country in the fall of 2016, having been confronted by Mr. Solomon and his wife in Manhattan shortly after they discovered the wine missing and called the East Hampton Village Police Department. After Mr. De-Meyer was taken into custody at L.A.X. last week, a federal magistrate judge in California ordered Mr. De-Meyer remanded without bail, citing him as a flight risk, and ordered him to be extradited to New York.

F.B.I. Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement released after Mr. De-Meyer’s arrest: “The F.B.I. Art Crime Team is tasked with investigating and recovering rare and many times invaluable items, and bringing to justice criminals who believe no one is watching. We would like to thank the East Hampton Village Police Department for its partnership in this case.”

The prosecutors are demanding that any and all assets gained through these alleged illegal transactions be forfeited.