🌊 Oscar for Worst Bank Goes to…
March Madness is upon us, Every Oscar, Everywhere, All at Once, and the great Spanish wine heist
Happy Spring Forward Monday. It's weird to think about the fact that the generation behind Gen Z (Gen Microplastics, maybe?) will never have to manually reset clocks for Daylight Savings. They will never have to experience the blood, sweat, and tears that go into finding the "Date/Time" option in the system settings of a 2004 Honda Accord.
If you are from an older generation, we can hear you rolling your eyes from here.
In today's edition:
March Madness is upon us
Every Oscar, Everywhere, All at Once
The great Spanish wine heist
🔑 Key Stories
Silicon Valley Bank: Context (1/2)
On Friday, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed. It’s the 2nd-largest bank failure in US history
SVB, the US’ 16th-largest bank, was a major bank for startups and tech companies. It grew dramatically in recent years, driven by a boom in venture capital funding
Higher interest rates caused startup funding to start drying up in mid-2022, though, leaving SVB with less cash. SVB had also invested many deposits into long-term investments it couldn’t easily sell
SVB said last week that it was short on cash, which prompted depositors to rush to withdraw their funds
Silicon Valley Bank: Collapse (2/2)
SVB didn’t have enough money to cover all the withdrawals. As it failed, the FDIC – a US government agency – seized the bank
The FDIC guarantees up to $250k per depositor, but 96% of SVB’s deposits exceeded that. Through the weekend, investors and businesses waited to see if the FDIC would guarantee those uninsured deposits
On Sunday, in an attempt to avert a larger crisis, the government said SVB depositors will get all of their money back and that it will auction off SVB
Officials also announced Sunday that Signature Bank – a key bank for crypto companies – had failed
Stocks tanked for other banks early Monday, particularly smaller, regional ones. President Biden said that “Americans can rest assured that our banking system is safe. Your deposits are safe"
House: Disclose Covid-19 Origins
The House of Representatives voted 419-0 to declassify intelligence about Covid-19’s origins
2 US agencies have said Covid-19 most likely leaked from a lab, 4 have said it was most likely natural, and 2 haven’t said what they think
The House vote follows a similar one in the Senate. The votes order the director of national intelligence to declassify all information about Covid-19’s origins and submit a report to Congress within 3 months
The proposal is with President Biden, who said Friday he hasn’t decided if he will sign it. The White House said “protecting classified information” is important
“The American public deserves answers to every aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "I believe that the [intelligence community] should make as much public as they can," said the committee’s top Democrat
Mutiny at The BBC
The BBC canceled much of its weekend soccer coverage after staff members refused to show up
The BBC is the UK’s flagship publicly-funded broadcasting service. It says it’s politically impartial and limits what its staff can post on social media
Gary Lineker is a former English soccer star and the BBC’s highest-paid commentator. Last Tuesday, he criticized the UK government's new immigration proposal
On Friday, the BBC suspended him; in response, BBC soccer staff didn’t report for work, causing the BBC to change or cancel its weekend soccer coverage. The broadcaster says it’s trying to resolve the issue
On Monday, the BBC announced it had reached a deal to reinstate Lineker. “After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this," Lineker tweeted. He added, "However difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away"
The Madness Begins
March Madness – the NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball tournament – features 68 teams. A play-in round – the “First 4” – takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday. The first full round – the Round of 64 – begins on Thursday
The overall #1 seed is Alabama, one of whose players was charged with murder earlier in the season
Houston, Purdue, and Kansas are the other #1s. The #2s are Marquette, UCLA, Texas, and Arizona
The biggest loser may have been the University of North Carolina, which became the first team to enter the season ranked #1 and not make the tournament
Alabama has never made it past the Elite 8, the tournament’s 4th of 6 rounds. The team has been embroiled in scandal this year, after one of its players was charged with murdering a woman using a gun delivered by the team's star
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Every Oscar, Everywhere: Science comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once took home 7 Oscars, including Best Picture, at the Academy Awards on Sunday
Reverse King Midas: The Chief Administrative Officer of the now-defunct Silicon Valley Bank was also the CFO of Lehman Brothers before its collapse
Ump, you're outta there! A college baseball umpire has been suspended for his egregious game-ending 3rd strike call after the batter protested his 2nd strike call
Luke Stage-walker? A Disney exec showed off a "real-life lightsaber" on stage at SXSW in Austin, TX. He did not reveal how the saber created the optical illusion
Vas & vurious: Vasectomy clinics across the country are offering "Vas Madness" promotions during March Madness, one of their busiest times of the year
California floodin': More than 1,500 people were evacuated from a small town in northern California after a river breached a levee. The town is now flooded
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🌯 Roca Wrap
On October 27, 2021, a wealthy couple dined at a high-end restaurant in Spain.
They would depart the next day having executed one of the greatest robberies in the country’s history.
In summer of 2021, a 49-year-old Romanian-Dutch man named Constantín Dumitru and his partner, 28-year-old former Miss Mexico Priscila Guevara, visited the Atrio Restaurante Hotel at least 3 times.
Atrio is a high-end hotel and 2 Michelin star restaurant in Cáceres, Spain. It’s known for having a wine cellar with over 40,000 bottles.
On October 27, Guevara returned to the hotel and made a reservation for herself. Dumitru joined her later that night for a 14-course dinner. After the meal, the couple requested a guided tour of the restaurant's wine cellar before returning to their hotel room. Atrio’s owners didn’t realize the couple was scouting out a crime scene.
Around 2 AM local time, Guevara called the hotel's front desk to order room service. With only one employee working the desk, the couple hoped he would leave it – and thus the box containing magnetic room cards – unattended while he filled her order. The deskman later said he found it odd that Guevara wanted more food after 14 courses, but did as she wished.
The plan worked and Dumitru stole what he thought was the hotel’s master key to open the cellar. But the key didn’t work, so Dumitru had Guevara call the front desk again to request dessert. This time, Dumitru found the master key, with which he entered the wine cellar minutes later.
Dumitru reportedly stuffed 3 large bags with wine worth over $1.5M, using 4 hotel towels to prevent the bottles from clinking against each other. In total, he filled the bags with 45 bottles of wine, including an extremely rare 215-year-old bottle valued at $350,000.
About 3 hours later, Guevara checked out of the hotel. No one noticed the couple’s extra luggage.
Days later, Altrio’s owners noticed the theft and alerted authorities. That set off an international investigation that revealed what police called a “meticulously planned” heist operation.
Over the next 9 months, a joint police operation identified the couple as suspects and tracked them down to the border between Montenegro and Croatia, which they were crossing by car.
Last Monday, a Spanish court sentenced Guevara and Dumitru to 4 years and 4.5 years, respectively, in prison on charges of aggravated robbery, and fined them nearly $800,000 in damages.
But many questions remain.
How did the couple know which key was the master key? According to testimony, the master key was "mixed with other similar ones to camouflage [it]” and “ impossible to know which one it was, even as a hotel employee.” Only the front desk receptionist should have known which key it was.
And to this day, there is no trace of the wine.
The defendants’ lawyers deny all charges: “45 bottles and 4 towels do not fit in 2 sports bags and could not be carried so lightly by this man,” Guevara’s lawyer told the court.
The couple's sentence is not yet final, according to Spanish newspaper El País, and they will have an opportunity to appeal it.
Is justice being served, or is another thief out there, enjoying a 215-year bottle of red?
Thoughts or questions? Send them to [email protected]!
🌊 Roca Clubhouse
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🧠 Final Thoughts
We hope you all had nice weekends. For those who have asked, our money is not with SVB – it's safely tucked away in our parents' mattresses and walls. That's much safer, right?
Enjoy your Mondays!
–Max and Max