Billionaire cabbie-turned-real-estate mogul Tamir Sapir was recently the victim of theft at his $20 million Long Island mansion after a construction worker allegedly stole four antique silver champagne buckets worth $200,000, according to Newsday. But the real crime is that Mr. Sapir didn’t even notice that his extravagant booze buckets were gone until an auction house called him months after the fact. Being a billionaire is hard!
Apparently, Mr. Sapir only learned of the theft when Sotheby’s notified him that construction worker Anatoliy Maryuk had tried to fence two of the buckets—made in France and worth $50,000 a pop—to the auction company in September 2011. Mr. Maryuk had, at this point, allegedly sold the two other buckets on Ebay.
In Mr. Sapir’s defense, $200,000 is kind a drop in the silver champagne bucket when you’re worth $2 billion. And it takes a lot of time and energy to manage a real estate empire as well as one’s personal, palatial dwellings, let alone worry about every piece of $50,000 kitchen equipment. And while we’d like to believe that the life of a real estate mogul with a sprawling Long Island mansion means drinking expensive champagne every evening, we understand that even people who can afford to chug the finest bubbly sometimes prefer other libations. Besides, when one has a staff, one doesn’t necessarily interact with one’s household belongings on a daily basis—perhaps the butler simply assumed that the antiques had been misplaced by a maid and started using one of the other silver champagne buckets.
Sadly, if court documents filed in 2010 are true, there might be another explanation for the mogul’s absent-mindedness. While Mr. Sapir appears to have been busy managing his extensive personal and real estate holdings these last few years—selling the Duke Semans mansion to Carlos Slim for $44 million, importing endangered and exotic animal carcases into the country on his yacht, buying the perfect Long Island mansion, he has allegedly been suffering from aphasia—”a deteriorating mental condition” since 1998. The condition has left him unable to form comprehensible sentences in either English or his native Russian, and to do little other than sign his name, according to court documents that came to light as part of the $130 million lawsuit against him. (Although one wonders why a man who can longer form comprehensible sentences is allowed to sign documents.)
But if Mr. Sapir is no longer calling the shots at his business empire (rumors abound that his son Alex is the one running the show these days), surely there’s someone looking after his personal affairs who should be safeguarding his very expensive champagne buckets? And making sure that 150-foot yacht isn’t filled with stuffed Bengal tiger heads when it enters U.S. waters (being shipped on an Italian freighter no less)?
For his part, Mr. Maryuk, who is being charged with second-degree larceny, denies that he pilfered the pricey buckets, according to his lawyer. In the meantime, we’ll toast to the truth being uncovered in a timely manner.