A little-known 90,000 sq ft complex of wine cellars under London Bridge station is at the centre of a legal storm after Trapps Cellars went into administration.
Twelve staff have already lost their jobs. More than 600 private and trade customers including Mick Jagger, Lord Lloyd Webber and auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's use the cellars to store vintage bottles.
About 40,000 cases of fine wines dating from 1870 could be destroyed if the owners do not reclaim their cases by next Monday. The vaults are storing Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Petrus and Chateau Latour and cases of Silver Jubilee vintage 1977 port.
HM Customs & Excise swooped on the premises in August on suspicion of unpaid duty.
Customs officers raided the Tooley Street cellars and removed all paperwork and computers, which the company says left it unable to continue trading.
Subsequently Customs & Excise also levied a £1.93 million charge for unpaid duty on the firm.
Richard Toone, of acting administrators Begbies Traynor, said: "We've sent letters to all Trapps's customers – many of whom live overseas – advising them that they need to clear their collections before December 16. As the deadline is fast approaching we urge them to get in touch soon or they risk losing their collections.
"They can simply move the stock to another bonded warehouse and pay the transportation costs if they can't come to Trapps and collect their wines in person."
As a bonded warehouse, dutiable goods are deposited in the vaults of Trapps Cellars until duty is paid or the goods are cleared for export. From 21 January next year Customs & Excise is revoking Trapps' bonded status, removing the right to store alcohol under bond.
Trapps intends to contest the duty assessment.