"I just think it's really strange seeing these people who live in these $20 million homes wanting $100,000 dollars," said Stephen Burton as he stood in front of $150,000 worth of expensive wine. "I think it's crazy."
Crazy enough to make Burton some nice profits. His company, Bordeaux Cellars, makes loans against the best wines in the world. "I've got quite a few cases of Romane-Conti, which is around $120,000 to $150,000 a case."
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Burton got into the loan business when his traditional job as a wine broker began to suffer after global wine prices fell. "I was reading an article in the Sunday Times. There was a pawnbroker over here in London who had a warehouse full of Aston Martins and Ferraris," he said. "Literally, people were just driving into this warehouse, handing them the keys for a cash loan. So I just put two and two together, and I thought, you know, we could do this with wine."
More than a year later, Burton said he and his partners have made 200 loans worth $30 million. He displayed some of the wine in hock—the Romane-Conti mentioned above, also a Magnum of 2004 Petrus, some Chateau Lafite Rothschild, and Chateau Latour. Burton even claimed one American going through a divorce put up two dozen cases of Screaming Eagle to get some quick cash. Two dozen cases.