The former assistant to the chief executive of Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs stole more than 500 bottles of wine from his boss’ collection without the executive noticing and later committed suicide ahead of a court appearance. That’s according to an illuminating, and controversial New York Times story about the case that was published this week.
According to the piece titled “The Wine Thief,” Nicholas DeMeyer was a character along the lines of Tom Ripley, the Patricia Highsmith literary character played by Matt Damon in the 1999 movie The Talented Mr. Ripley. A man of modest upbringing who grew up in Ohio, DeMeyer often lied about his history and background in order to ingratiate himself with the upper crust. In college, the Times reported, DeMeyer claimed falsely to be descended from German nobility.
In 2008, DeMeyer got a job as the personal assistant to David Solomon, who is now the CEO of Goldman Sachs. At some point, he began regularly stealing bottles of wine from Solomon’s cellar in the Hamptons, some of them rare and expensive, and selling them to a wine distributor in North Carolina. Solomon didn’t notice the wine was missing and was only made aware of the deception when someone further down the distribution chain asked him why he had sold several particularly rare bottles, and he replied that he hadn’t.
DeMeyer later confessed to Solomon and his wife – on what happened to be election night in 2016 – and then he fled to Italy. He was arrested upon his return to the U.S., and in October he committed suicide by jumping off a building in New York.
Nicolas DeMeyer stole $1.2 million in wine from the CEO of Goldman Sachs before committing suicide by jumping from the 33d floor of the Carlyle Hotel. Was he a modern day Tom Ripley or Butch Cassidy in Hermes sneakers? https://t.co/zaJ21wr998— Jacob Bernstein (@BernsteinJacob) December 12, 2018
Jacob Bernstein, the author of the Times article and the son of Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein and the late journalist and screenwriter Nora Ephron, has drawn some fire on social media for his depiction in the piece of Vassar College, where DeMeyer attended. The upstate New York college is described by the author as “a haven for worldly artistic kids who were too urban for Kenyon and Oberlin but didn’t have the grades or scores for Brown or Yale.”
Bernstein does not disclose in the story that he himself attended Vassar, graduating the year after DeMeyer in 2000. The reporter defended himself on Twitter by stating that “I have no prior relationship with the subject of the piece. I have no close relationship to anyone quoted in the story,” and adding that he himself “did not have the board scores or grades to get into Yale or Brown.”