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Saturday 19 April 2014

Champagne seized by Nazis to be auctioned

5th June, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

Two bottles of Champagne seized by the Nazis during World War II then ‘liberated’ by an RAF serviceman are to go under the hammer this month.

Having been seized by the Nazis during WW2, the bottles were discovered by a British RAF officer in 1944

According to Hansons Auctioneers, both bottles – Château de Mareuilsay Montebello 1937 and Monopole Red Top by Heidsieck from an unknown date – are unopened and in good condition.

Each bear a red stamp in German and French that reads: “Sales in the free market are prohibited”, and “Reserved for German army not for resale or purchase.”

They were discovered by a British member of the RAF who was serving in France following D-Day in 1944.

Detail from the Heidsieck label

Detail from the Heidsieck Monopole label

He left the bottles to his daughter, who sold them to the unnamed vendor a decade ago.

While Hitler was teetotal, chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, filled vast cellars with stolen bottles of Champagne following the invasion of France.

“The Nazi high command consumed vast amounts of Champagne to flaunt their victory,” said Hansons’ junior valuer Elizabeth Bailey.

“They even set up a permanent office at Reims to control Champagne production, ensuring a constant supply.

“It’s remarkable that these two bottles of bubbly still exist, considering the unquenchable thirst the Nazi forces had for Champagne,” she added.

According to Bailey, some of the last planes into besieged Stalingrad in 1942-43 were carrying crates of vintage Champagne to German military officers.

The bottles will be auctioned at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire on 20 June.

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