Antique champagne buckets stolen from billionaire tycoon Tamir Sapir
A construction worker at real estate tycoon Tamir Sapir's sprawling $20 million mansion in Kings Point was accused Saturday of stealing four antique silver champagne buckets worth a combined $200,000 from the mogul, court records show.
Anatoliy Maryuk, 40, of Brooklyn turned himself in to Nassau County police Friday night, following a more-than-yearlong investigation into the thefts from Sapir's estate on Pond Road, records show. The area's waterfront mansions were an inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, "The Great Gatsby."
Sapir, 65, had not noticed the buckets -- crafted in France and worth $50,000 each -- were missing until Sotheby's called to tell him Maryuk had tried to sell two of them to the auction company in September 2011, records show.
A month earlier, Maryuk had sold the other two buckets for $15,000 to a man in Maryland through the online auction site eBay, authorities said. The buyer then resold the antiques for $25,000 to a man in Alexandria, Va., authorities said. Neither man appeared to know the items were stolen, FBI Special Agent Jim Margolin said.
Authorities then traced the buckets to Maryuk, who was charged with second-degree larceny and jailed on $3,000 bail following his arraignment Saturday in Hempstead. No plea was entered.
"He absolutely denies the allegations," said his lawyer, Alex Grosshtern of Manhattan.
Sapir could not be reached for comment. Forbes estimated his net worth was about $2 billion in 2007. He also made the Forbes 400 -- a list of the country's richest citizens -- for four consecutive years.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Sapir left the Soviet Union in 1973 in a wave of Jewish emigration, settling in Israel before migrating to the United States, according to a biography on his company website.
He worked as a taxi driver in New York City before mortgaging his taxi medallion and investing the money in a wholesale electronics store on Fifth Avenue, which became an enclave for New York's Russian community and for visiting Soviet dignitaries and trade delegations seeking to purchase state-of-the-art electronics, the biography says.
Sapir parlayed his business connections into a role as a major foreign partner for the emerging oil industry in Russia. He also founded The Sapir Organization, which owns luxury properties throughout Manhattan.
In 2009, one of Sapir's companies, Ruzial Ltd., pleaded guilty to attempting to illegally import 29 wildlife items after investigators found a bevy of exotic pieces on the company yacht in South Florida, federal court records show.
With Candice Ferrette