This is a story worth getting to the bottom of, and nobody's there yet, but even the suggestion is outrageous: Eater brings word of a receipt posted on Reddit by a user claiming to have gotten it from a friend who works at a London restaurant where 15 Olympics "bosses" (in the Redditor's words) ran up a £44,660 lunch bill, which included a £19,000 bottle of Hennessy 1853. That converts to $69,469 for lunch and $29,555 for the bottle of booze. To get an idea of what kind of mark-up that would be, a bottle of Hennessy 1853 sold for £956 at Christie's in 2004.
But there's a lot of information missing from this story, so it's too early to start pointing fingers at any Olympics officials. First of all, we have no way of immediately verifying the original Reddit poster's claim. The restaurant is not identified and the Redditor has already deleted his or her account. Also, the picture doesn't show the whole receipt, so we don't know what other booze they might have ordered, or much of the other food. The individual dishes that are sho shown seem to be pretty standard for a business lunch joint: Spiced chicken for £15, veggie fried rice for £5, "exotic fruit" (whatever that means) for £15. A $30,000 bottle of booze is outrageous in pretty much any context, but it just doesn't paint the full picture, especially given the disparity with the normally priced food. Also, Redditors on the thread questioned why the bottle of Hennessy didn't appear to have the same format on the receipt as the other items, with an @ sign followed by the unit price under it.
The Olympics are funded both privately and publicly, and we don't know who was picking up the tab for this supposed lunch—if it even happened. Of the estimated 20,000 journalists said to be in London covering the games right now, we're really hoping at least one will pick up this story and follow the money.
Update: Gawker's Max Read makes the case that the restaurant is China Tang, at London's Dorchester Hotel, where the cocktail menu includes a 19,000 bottle of Hennessy 1853, and where the hostess told him Olympic officials have been dropping by. Though she couldn't remember this group exactly.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.