Chef Benoit Violier was the owner of the l’Hotel de Ville, which was awarded three Michelin stars earning him the title of the “world’s best chef.” However, it seems that his impressive culinary skills couldn’t keep him out of financial trouble as he fell victim to a million dollar wine scam. Violier allegedly lost over $1.98 million in the wine scam, which left the chef in extremely difficult financial situation. Following the financial woes, the renown chef was found dead last Sunday in what was described as an apparent suicide.
The Daily Mail reports that the “world’s best chef” Benoit Violier was found dead last Sunday from an apparent suicide. However, the chef did not leave a suicide note, so the reasoning for his suicide may never fully be known. Though no note was left, it has been reported that the last few months of the chef’s life were “very troubled.” Despite Violier’s highly successful l’Hotel de Ville restaurant which was known for receiving three Michelin stars under the chef’s reign, Violier was allegedly in deep financial trouble due to his involvement in a million dollar wine scam.
Filipe Fonseca Pinheiro, Chef de Partie, a remporté le titre de Cuisinier d’Or 2015! Bravo! http://t.co/Y2hYnSBcua pic.twitter.com/y8J6jqH7HD
— Benoît Violier (@Benoit_Violier) March 3, 2015
Reports indicate that Violier lost over $1.98 million in the wine scam after he believed he was purchasing extremely rare wines for his restaurant. However, after selling the expensive wine to Violier, the company never delivered on the promised wines and the chef was left in incredible debt and without any of the exclusive wines he had promised customers. It seems that the financial strain from the elaborate wine scam may have been too much for the noted chef and may be one of the many factors that played a role in his ultimate suicide.
— nzherald (@nzherald) February 7, 2016
Swiss financial magazine Bilan reports that the troubles for Violier began with the wine. It was reported that a Swiss group called Private Finance Partners was behind the wine scam and that the money the company took from Violier and other chef’s was unable to be returned as the Swiss company filed bankruptcy in November of 2015. Following the company’s bankruptcy and Violier realizing he was not going to get his money back or the wine, things took a turn for the worse.
An anonymous broker speaking exclusively to Bilan noted that some of the wine scam brokers were taken into custody in October prior to the bankruptcy, the anonymous broker being one of those arrested. The broker said that in his final months of life, Violier was deeply troubled over the scam and that he was in financial disrepair.
“The last months of the famous chef were quite troubled.”
Though the broker claims Violier was troubled in the months leading to his death, just weeks before his apparent suicide, the renowned chef was seemingly excited about being named the best of 1,000 top eateries across 48 different countries. After being named the “best of the best,” Violier took to the media to proclaim that the award would motivate his team even more.
“It’s wonderful, it’s exceptional for us. This ranking will only motivate our team more.”
Despite the alleged motivation he received from being name the best in the world, it seems it wasn’t enough for Violier who couldn’t rise up financial following the wine scam that left him with financial woes. Louis Villeneuve, his maître d’hôtel, was one of the last people to see Violier alive and said that nothing seemed amiss. In fact, Villeneuve says that when the famed chef left the restaurant at 11:00 pm on Saturday night to head home he told Louis that he would “see him Tuesday.” However, that would be the last time the chef stepped foot in the restaurant as he would be found dead the following day after not showing up to the airport for a scheduled flight to Paris where he was set to participate in a Michelin Guide awards ceremony.
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