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Surgeon’s £200k wine collection wrecked

A retired surgeon has launched legal action against an air conditioning company, claiming it destroyed his £200,000 wine collection by leaving a humidifier running in his cellar.

As reported by The Times, Australia and New Zealand, Dr Spero Raptis had amassed a wine collection over several decades which numbered 1,253 and included 86 bottles of Penfolds Grange Hermitage, as well as fine Champagnes and Burgundy wines.

However having contracted an air conditioning company to carry out maintenance in his cellar, Dr Raptis claims a humidifier was left running releasing hot steam into the cellar and wrecking his collection.

The damage, said to have wiped 75% off the value of his collection, was discovered last year after Dr Raptis noticed condensation seeping from the cellar door, which when opened released a burst of heat and steam.

Dr Raptis is now suing the contractors for negligence and breach of contract – a claim the firm denies – with court papers claiming his collection was heavily reduced in value after the incident.

“[Dr Raptis] was the owner of vintage and collectable wines,” his claim, lodged with the court in January, states. “The actions of [the company] led to [his] cellar suffering a significant heat event which has caused the wine to be damaged or destroyed.”

The company was contracted by Dr Raptis in September last year to assess the temperature of the cellar, resulting in the discovery of a faulty compressor. Having replaced the compressor, Mr Raptis argues the humidifier was left running, causing steam to be released into the cellar, raising its temperature and damaging his wine collection.

“As a consequence of the humidifier remaining on, [it] continued to discharge steam into the cellar to retain the set level of humidity,” his claim states. Because [when] the increase in heat condensation occurs, this reduces the humidity in the cellar and the humidifier continued to … discharge steam into the room.”

His claim added: “The heat was sufficient that [Mr Raptis] was unable to immediately enter the cellar. Large amount of steam escaped from [it]”.

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