LEONARDO DA VINCI’S PORTRAIT HIDDEN IN A SWISS BUNDER VAULT. NOW WE KNOW IT WAS STEVE COHN’S PAINTING, HEDGE FUND PARIAH WHO STOLE ALL YOUR MONEY IN THE 2007 FINANCIAL MELTDOWN AND KEEPS BUYING ART WITH YOUR MONEY. HE JUST SPENT $1.25 MILLION FOR GIACOMETTI’S CHARIOT.
The case of freeport king Yves Bouvier, arrested in Monaco in late February and indicted for fraud and complicity in money laundering, keeps unraveling.
A court in Singapore, where Bouvier resides, has now ordered a worldwide freeze of all his assets. This includes a prohibition to divest any shares in companies worth up to $500 million.
The court has also ordered Bouvier to hand over a 1951 Mark Rothko painting, entitled No.6 (violet, vert et rouge), which is the bone of contention between the disgraced Swiss businessman and an unspecified client. Swiss police conducted two raids at the Bouvier-owned Geneva freeport. One of the raids took place in the offices of Bouvier’s art storage, shipping, and servicing company Natural Le Coultre. The second one, in the Post Impressionist-specialized Gallerie Nelombos, run by his associate Jean-Marc Paretti.
WHY DID THE RUSSIAN TURN AGAINST HE LONG TERM FRIEND? SHALL WE ASK STEVE COHN?
Bouvier claimed Rybolovlev owed his company “tens of millions of euros,” while claiming that the oligarch set him up after failing to cough up the cash for Mark Rothko’s No. 6 – Violet, Green, and Red. “Rybolovlev couldn’t pay the balance of the last painting he bought from my company, the most beautiful Rothko in the world.” Invited by the buyer to chat, Bouvier “fell into an ambush” as he was detained and handcuffed by eight police officers.
NEW YEAR’S DINNER WITH FAMILY
LEONARDO’S DISPUTED PORTRAIT
Bouvier’s downfall was set in motion on New Year’s Eve, during an evening which Rybolovlev enjoyed in the company of Sandy Heller, advisor-collector for Steve Cohen’s.
It was then that Heller dropped the bomb, by telling Rybolovlev about a stunning Amedeo Modigliani nude that her brother Steven had sold for a whopping $93.5 million to an undisclosed buyer.
The Russian billionaire, who owns the Monaco football club, quickly realized that the painting was the same Modigliani he had previously bought from Bouvier for $118 million.
Bouvier, who takes credit in having built Rybolovlev’s collection into “one of the finest in the world,” admits to having worked with the oligarch for ten years, having sold him forty “major works,” reportedly from artists including Picasso, Gauguin, Degas, and even a controversial Da Vinci. Specifically, Rybolovlev’s family trust (which controls his collection) claims Bouvier defrauded them by taking a broker’s commission of 2% while charging an illegal, and hyperbolic, markup, using offshore companies to disguise his interventions.
GREED, GREED, GREED
Bouvier is accused of illegally pocketing nearly $25 million on Steve Cohen’s Modigliani, with the Da Vinci—which he’s accused of buying for $75 to $80 million before flipping it to Rybolovlev for $127.5 million including fees— as much as $52.5 million. “I’ve never been a broker,” Bouvier defended himself, “my company was the seller […] and the alleged commissions are not commissions but administrative costs,” he says, adding that in ten years, he’d only spoken to Rybolovlev “five times directly […] he was never a friend.”
Crunching the numbers and seeing red, he filed the criminal complaint against Bouvier in Monaco’s Palais of Justice just nine days later. He claimed that Bouvier had overcharged him on several paintings worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including a Leonardo da Vinci he purchased for $127 million, which Rybolovlev believes Bouvier had bought for $50 million.
Rybolovlev’s net worth is estimated at $8.5 billion and an art collection that includes Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, andClaude Monet. He is listed by Forbes as the world’s 156th wealthiest person—even after his ex-wife was awarded half of his fortune in their 2014 divorce settlement.
Bouvier Denies the Allegations
Bouvier, who is currently on a €10 million bail (see €10 Million Bail for Yves Bouvier, Indicted for Defrauding Dmitry Rybolovlev and Is Swiss Freeport King Yves Bouvier Free on €10M Bail, or Not?), denies all charges.
A statement, issued by Bouvier’s lawyers when he was released, said that he would prove the “fantasy and non-existence” of the “alleged damages.”
ALL IN THE FAMILY?
In the tight-knit world of art dealers and mega-buyers, where insider information is the name of the game, Bouvier’s case could be prove to be a game changer, as it potentially pits collectors against brokers, putting inherent conflicts of interest in the spotlight. At the same time, Rybolovlev is playing a high-stakes game, as a sophisticated collector and global businessman of his stature is not one who doesn’t understand the risks he’s taking. His lawyer claims other “victims” of Mr. Bouvier have already approached them, while the embattled King of the free ports believes he will clear his name in a Monaco court. Whatever happens the impact could be permanent.