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New York store Sherry-Lehmann ‘owes $1 million in wine’ to customers, report claims

Claims that $1 million in bottles is owed to customers by shuttered New York fine wine store Sherry-Lehmann have been made by The New York Times.

An upmarket wine store in East Side Manhattan, the drinks business reported that Sherry Lehmann was in danger of closure as it battled a tax bill of more than US$3 million in December 2022. and a temporary closure of its shop in March 2023 after its liquor license expired.

Now business reporter for The New York Times, James B. Stewart, has written about his own troubles with the store, and about claims of customers not being able to access their purchases through a storage service managed by Sherry-Lehmann, called the Wine Caves.

Stewart claims that he paid in advance for 48 bottles of Bordeaux wine as well as ‘futures’ for the 2016 and 2019 blends. But he did not receive the bottles, which were meant to be delivered in 2019 and 2022, leaving him US$6,300 out of pocket. Sherry-Lehmann said the issue was due to the pandemic and shipping delays.

According to Stewart’s report, former employees have alleged that Sherry-Lehmann may have sold bottles from its storage arm to other customers. Specifically, the article mentions a US$385,000 invoice for an order of several vintage wines, including bottles of 1995 Domaine de la Romanee Conti (DRC) La Tache priced at US$7,995 each.

The news follows several stories this year about the beleaguered store. According to The New York Post in March, the 550 Park Avenue retailer was visited on 27 February by representatives of Con Edison, who gave staff a “thirty minute warning” to gather their personal belongings before the power was shut off.

Sources speaking to the Post allege that store owner Shyda Gilmer treats the shop like “his personal booze stash”, even as finances have dwindled.

Just two weeks after that story db again reported that the iconic New York wine store Sherry Lehmann, it transpires that the wine shop has been closed by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) after failing to renew its liquor license.

The store already has its work cut out batting off complaints from customers demanding delivery of fine wines they paid for weeks, months, “or even years ago”.

Raymond Fong and Pak Chung are suing Sherry Lehmann over US$800,000 worth of cases of Chateau Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Lafite Rothschild, which they claim they paid for and should have received in 2019.

The store’s legal firm Nixon Peabody filed a motion to dismiss the case back in December, on the basis that the lawsuit “has no merit” because Sherry Lehmann “offered the customers a full refund of their deposit — which they declined.”

At the time, the store insisted that the wine was “scheduled to arrive in mid-February” but the Post has since reported that of early March the wines are yet to arrive.

The historic wine store in Manhattan’s East Side, which has been operating in New York since 1934, and was first reported to be in danger back in December, after failing to pay a tax bill of US$3.160 million. It is listed on the New York State Delinquent Tax List, Top 250 businesses in 12th place with a debt to $2.8 million by April 2023.

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