Nicolas De-Meyer, 41, jumped from the 33rd floor of the famed hotel on East 76th Street at Madison Avenue around 2:30 p.m., authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Hotel staff had been alerted by his sister that he was sending alarming texts saying he might kill himself over the case, police sources said. When security forced open his door, he was naked and sitting on the window sill.
He smiled at them and then jumped, sources said, his body striking a 17th floor balcony with such force that half of him landed on a terrace two floors below, the sources said.
At roughly the same time, DeMeyer was scheduled to plead guilty before a Manhattan federal judge to stealing $1.2 million worth of rare wines from wealthy financier David Solomon, who has since become the CEO of the world-famous Wall Street investment firm.
Nicolas De-Meyer was arrested in Los Angeles on January 16, and named in an indictment unsealed a day later in Manhattan federal court. De-Meyer worked for Solomon, whom the indictment described as an “individual who collects rare and expensive wine.”
The assistant apparently found the good stuff. The theft included seven bottles from the French estate Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, a Burgundy widely considered “among the best, most expensive and rarest wines in the world,” according to the indictment. In all, De-Meyer stole hundreds of bottles, prosecutors said.
Solomon, 56, now Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, is a double-black-diamond skier and wine collector who earned the title of Mr. Gourmet 2010 from the Society of Bacchus America. He had a 1,000-bottle wine storage area in his Manhattan residence, according to The Real Deal.
Nicolas De-Meyer, 41, is accused of using an alias, “Mark Miller,” to sell bottles to a North Carolina-based wine dealer.
De-Meyer’s regular duties included receiving wine shipped to Solomon’s Manhattan apartment and transporting it to his boss’s cellar in East Hampton, New York.
The feds say DeMeyer used at least some of the money he made from selling the pricey bottles for a 14-month, globe-trotting adventure, including stops in Rome and Casablanca, before he finally got caught at JFK airport in January.
The feds say DeMayer, an art history major, had been working as Solomon’s household assistant helping to shuttle the Wall Streeter’s vintage vino from Manhattan to his massive wine cellar in East Hampton when he concocted a scheme to steal as many of 500 bottles.
Assistant to wealthy rare-wine collector stole $1.2M in vintage bottles from his employer, but killed himself rather than face restitution
Among the bottles he stole and resold under a pseudonym were seven bottles of wine from the French estate Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, “whose wines are widely considered among the best, most expensive, and rarest wines in the world” and which had been previously purchased for $133,650, according to court papers.
Those bottles were so rare, they exposed DeMeyer when a Napa Valley art dealer traced them back to Solomon and tipped him off to the theft, the feds said.
Meyer, who was born Nickolas Meyer and later added the “de” to his name, then confessed his crime to the Solomons at the Greenwich Hotel in 2016 before hopping on a plane to Rome, the feds said. “He said he was scared, and he couldn’t go to prison, that’s why he left,” prosecutor Justin Rodriguez told the judge following his arrest last year.
He faced as much as 10 years in prison on one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. It’s unclear how much time he might have faced under a plea deal.
De-Meyer’s defense lawyer Sabrina Shroff looked upset while speaking on the phone Tuesday when her client failed to show up in court. The judge then cancelled the hearing following a closed-door meeting with Shroff and a prosecutor without saying why or whether the hearing might be rescheduled.
Observers are still wondering what led to the crime and subsequent suicide.
The address on record with police for De-Meyer matches a prewar doorman building just south of Central Park. But court records indicate that before his death, he had been declared indigent and was staying with his mother in Findlay, Ohio, the city south of Toledo where he grew up.
Born Nicolas Meyer, his 1995 yearbook entry noted that he dreamed of one day owning an art gallery, left soon after graduating from high school, moving to Upstate New York.
where he graduated in Art History from Vassar College.
He didn’t say much about his past, and his former classmates told the Weekly Standard that based on his clothing and his mannerisms, they had assumed that he was just another wealthy kid from New York City.
“He was mysterious in some ways,” a classmate, Kelly Williams, told the Weekly Standard. “He was always really well dressed, impeccably dressed, always put together.”
At some point, he changed his name. Nicolas De-Meyer, as he’s named in the criminal indictment, was Nickolas Meyer in his high school yearbook, a slim, attractive teenager with curly hair and a broad smile.
While it’s unclear what De-Meyer did for almost a decade after graduating from Vassar in 1999, he began working as a personal assistant for Solomon, who was then the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, in 2008. One of his responsibilities was receiving shipments of wine at Solomon’s Manhattan apartment and transporting them to the wine cellar at the executive’s East Hampton, N.Y., estate, federal prosecutors wrote in their indictment.
The thefts began sometime around 2014, prosecutors said. De-Meyer had met a North Carolina-based wine dealer online and began selling him bottles from Solomon’s collection. He called himself “Mark Miller,” the name of a celebrated New York vintner.
DeMeyer had been released from federal detention after his arrest on a $1 million bond secured by $200,000 in cash and his mother’s home in Findlay, Ohio, where he was staying. He had been scheduled to arrive in New York on Friday, ahead of his expected plea.
His mother, Jane Rettig, did not pick up the phone at her Findlay, Ohio, home on Tuesday.
Asked about his former assistant’s tragic end, David Solomon issued a statement. “Mary and I are deeply saddened to hear that Nicolas took his own life,” he said. “He was close to our family for several years, and we are all heartbroken to hear of his tragic end.”