The continuing and violent battle between Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and Yves Bouvier, a Swiss art merchant and freeport mogul, reached new heights this week when Rybolovlev filed a $ 380 million lawsuit against Sotheby’s in federal court.
The charges are brought by two of Rybolovlev’s companies and claim that the auction house has materially helped the collector call it “the greatest art fraud in history.” It is the latest attempt by the Russian oligarch to recover Boubier, after stating in 2015 that he was overcharged by the dealer in 38 works of art acquired for a total of $ 2 billion over a decade, including “Salvator Mundi “by Leonardo Da Vinci. Sotheby’s was involved in the sale of 14 of the works in question.
- According to court documents, Bouvier “planned” the fraud by capturing the paintings in lower costs than he stands forprior to selling them to Rybolovlev at unduly marked rates, falselythieving millions for himself. Sotheby’s happens to claim the claim, deliberately and intentionally when mediating certain inflated sales and valuations. The roles involve members of the Sotheby’s team, such as Alexander Bell, co-chairman of the Old Masters painting house, and the world’s private sales vice president, Samuel Valette.
- In addition to the unparalleled amount being claimed for damages, latest claims by Rybolovlev do not vary much from those already being tried in Swiss courts, where Sotheby’s has stated that it has not engaged in any offense. “We will vigorously defend the company and our employees against these unfounded claims,” Sotheby’s says, adding that the auction house will move to reject the lawsuit in New York while continuing to prosecute the case currently in process in Geneva.
Perhaps the most prominent example of the alleged fraud is the sale of “Salvator Mundi” from Leonardo da Vinci to Rybolovlev in 2013 for a total of $ 128.7 million, which represents a $ 45 million increase that Bouvier paid for a private sale made easy by Sotheby’s. Although the Russian oligarch pressed for a federal investigation into this sale, the investigation was halted in June after the painting reached $ 450.3 million at Christie’s last November – which earned Rybolovlev a net profit of more than US $ 300 million.
Sotheby’s contends that the title of these works went directly to Bouvier and that he had no prior knowledge to whom the dealer could claim to sell them, once he acquired them, thus acquitting the house of auctions of guilt. In the case of Leonardo’s painting specifically, Sotheby’s pre-empted the papers in a New York court in November 2016 to block such action, stating that he didn’t know that Bouvier used to have the Russian billionaire on the marginal waiting for payingsomething more for the work. For more in this and more follow courthousenews.com now.