The New York Times today shares what it's calling "one of the strangest stories to emerge from" Superstorm Sandy: that of WineCare, a tony Manhattan wine storage facility that has been all but mum in the eight months since it was flooded in the storm. The players in the saga: furious clients, an unsympathetic judge, and a silent owner. As the Times explains, in the aftermath of the storm Derek Limbocker told his clients via email that "we believe at least 95% of the wine [27,000 cases] we are storing is fine." That was likely somewhat reassuring news, considering the value of the wines it held—the Times cites one client, a NYC hedge fund manager, whose collection is worth an estimated $5.2 million.
But clients' relief ended there: Since Sandy, they haven't been able to retrieve a single bottle. They're still paying monthly fees, as Limbocker filed for bankruptcy protection; he revealed at a March creditors' meeting that thousands of bottles shattered as they were being moved in his warehouse. Some of his clients filed a motion asking the bankruptcy court to force a trustee upon the company. The judge's not-exactly-sympathetic response to their lawyers: "There were thousands of victims of Hurricane Sandy, most of which suffered a great deal more than your clients have." So for now, they wait, as the wine world watches. Says a lawyer with $100,000 worth of wine at the facility: "It's the craziest thing I've ever seen."