Premier Cru owner had penchant for expensive cars

John Fox, the owner of Premier Cru, holds up his hand at the Feb. 24 meeting of the company's creditors and pledges to tell the truth. He then proceeded to take the Fifth Amendment 50 times. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
John Fox, the owner of Premier Cru, holds up his hand at the Feb. 24 meeting of the company’s creditors, and pledges to tell the truth. He then proceeded to take the Fifth Amendment 50 times. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The embattled owner of the Premier Cru wine business who filed for bankruptcy has declined to provide information about his own financial status because it might affect the FBI criminal investigation into his business dealings, but court records show that he has a taste for fine cars.

   Catch up on the Premier Cru story.

During the last two years, presumably while his business racked up $70 million in debt, John Fox leased a $199,264 2014 Ferrari, as well as a $90,000 2016 two-door Corvette ZO6 with a 650-horsepower engine, according to court documents. Fox stopped making his $2,206 monthly payments on the Ferrari in November, and the company that owns the car, Ferrari Financial Services, is trying to get it back. Wells Fargo Bank is also asking to repossess the Corvette. There will be hearings on those motions March 16 and March 30.

Other than that, the personal bankruptcy documents filed by Fox in recent days reveal nothing. In page after page he lists $0.00 as the amount of money he has in various accounts, and the amount of his expenses.


“Due to an active FBI investigation and the advice of counsel, the debtor asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to answer the questions,” Fox says repeatedly in the court documents.

Throughout his personal bankruptcy documents, John Fox asserts his right not to answer detailed questions about his assets.
Throughout his personal bankruptcy documents, John Fox asserts his right not to answer detailed questions about his assets.

Premier Cru, the company Fox co-founded with Hector Ortega, is also in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings. There are 9,200 creditors of the company, and many of them are wondering where the money they paid for wines they did not receive went. Fox had acknowledged previously that he sold his luxury home in Alamo to pay down part of the businesses debt, but there were few other indications about whether he had lived an ostentatious lifestyle.

At a creditors meeting on Feb. 24, several people who know Fox mentioned that he liked expensive cars. They said he had long owned a grape-colored Corvette and they had seen Ferraris and Mercedes in the parking lot of Premier Cru at 1011 University Ave.

John Fox leased this kind of Corvette with a 650-horsepower engine for around $80,000.
John Fox leased this kind of Corvette with a 650-horsepower engine for around $80,000.

Related:
Customers confront owner of bankrupt wine store (02.25.16)
Troubles mount for Premier Cru as FBI steps in (02.11.16)
Berkeley’s Premier Cru paid its tech staffer in wine (02.04.16)
Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses (12.22.15)
Berkeley store sued for not delivering $3M worth of wine (10.29.15)

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