The Geneva prosecutor who was investigating the complaint of the Russian-Monegasque collector Dmitri Rybolovlev, owner of the AS Monaco football club, against the Swiss dealer Yves Bouvier issued a classification order on September 15. Mr Rybolovlev has announced his intention to appeal against this decision.
In 2015, he accused Mr. Bouvier of having defrauded him. He bought paintings on his own behalf. Mr. Rybolovlev believed he was acting as a broker, or adviser, and paid him on a percentage basis. Mr. Bouvier, for his part, said he acted as a merchant, taking a capital gain on each transaction. The sums involved are not negligible: 1 billion Swiss francs (915 million euros) commission for the sale of forty works of art.
Among the works sold to M. Rybolovlev by M. Bouvier is a monument, if not for the history of art, at least for that of the market: the Salvator Mundi, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Mr. Rybolovlev resold it, after other paintings in his collection. If the first transactions, sold at a loss, could suggest that it had perhaps been abused, the sale of the supposed Vinci upset the situation. The painting, acquired $ 83 million (70.8 million euros) by Mr. Bouvier, immediately resold $ 127.5 million to Mr. Rybolovlev – who was in the dark about the capital gain, hence its bitterness -, reached the insane amount of $ 450 million at auction, an all-time high.
Influence on Monegasque justice
This was not enough to calm Mr. Rybolovlev’s anger. Previously, he had arrested and imprisoned Mr. Bouvier during his stay in Monaco. However, subsequent investigations have shown that Mr. Rybolovlev and his counsel were involved with the justice system and the Monegasque police, to the point that he is now being prosecuted: he was indicted in 2018 for “active corruption” and “trading in influence. “, And the investigation was widened in 2021 to the count of” illegal taking of interests “. The Swiss judge who closed the case took these elements into account, according to the Geneva daily The weather : “This decision is reasoned [notamment] due to serious violations (…) committed in the context of Monegasque criminal proceedings. “
If Yves Bouvier claims victory, announcing the end of six “Nightmare years” – which, it is true, forced him to sell his works of art transport company and a good number of his shares in the famous “free ports” of which he had become, from Geneva to Singapore via Luxembourg , one of the main protagonists -, the lawyers of Dmitry Rybolovlev do not intend to let go of the case. They announce, according to The weather, that the decision will be appealed and add: “It is essential that this case, one of the most serious that the art world has ever known, be duly investigated and finally judged on the merits, moreover in Switzerland, one of the main international centers of the art world. art market, in order to provide the security and transparency it needs. “