Monaco football club owner sues Sotheby’s for $380 million and accuses Swiss art dealer of ‘tricking’ him

The Russian billionaire owner of AS Monaco football club has sued Sotheby's in New York for $380 million (€329 million), accusing the auction house of helping a Swiss art dealer defraud him.

Monaco football club owner sues Sotheby's for $380 million and accuses Swiss art dealer of 'tricking' him
AS Monaco President Dmitry Rybolovlev. Photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP.

The suit is the latest twist in a long-running case in which Dmitry Rybolovlev accuses Yves Bouvier of tricking him over the acquisition of 38 works of art.

Rybolovlev bought the masterpieces over a decade for more than $2.1 billion (€1.82 billion). His relationship with Bouvier collapsed after he accused him of pocketing “between $500 (€433 million) million and $1 billion (€866 billion)” from the inflated prices. 

Rybolovlev accuses Sotheby's of collaborating with Bouvier by giving him over-valued estimates to bolster Bouvier's recommended price points, according to court papers filed Tuesday in a US federal court.

The auction house suggested a number of works of art to Bouvier that they thought would interest Rybolovlev, the court papers say.

A spokesman for the Russian, who made his fortune in the fertilizer business after the collapse of the Soviet Union, confirmed to AFP that the suit had been filed, but refused to comment further.

READ ALSO: Swiss Federal Criminal Court orders Geneva warehouse firm to return statue to Egypt

“Mr Rybolovlev's latest desperate lawsuit is entirely without merit,” Sotheby's said in a statement sent to AFP.

In November 2017, Sotheby's filed a suit against Rybolovlev in Switzerland, saying that was the appropriate country for litigation. 

“We will be moving to dismiss the action in New York and at the same time we will continue to pursue our case through the Swiss courts,” Sotheby's said. “Sotheby's had no insight into what Bouvier did with the pieces that he bought,” said a source close to the auction house.

Sotheby's said it expected the Swiss legal system to determine that the company did not engage in any wrongdoing.

READ MORE: Answer to Sotheby's and Greek dispute over an ancient artifact could lie in Basel


Art project shows the scope of Switzerland’s extraordinary glacier loss

An art project has shed light on the sheer scope of Switzerland’s glacier loss in recent years due to climate change.

Art project shows the scope of Switzerland’s extraordinary glacier loss
Photo: Studio Oefner/ETH Zurich

The project looks to “visualise 140 years of glacial retreat through an interactive network”. 

READ: Swiss glaciers shrink ten percent in five years 

The project is led by Swiss artist Fabian Oefner, who has reproduced the receding glaciers using neon lines which contrast with images of the glaciers as they currently stand. 

In a collaboration with with Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and Google mapped the shrinking glaciers over time. 

READ: Swiss 'glacier initiative' collects 120,000 signatures 

“Im interested in the concept of time and how change shapes the way we see reality”, Oefner says. 

Using drones equipped with LEDs, Oefner used real representations of glacial loss as the frame for the project. 

“I looked at maps where you could see the glacier in its current state and dozens of lines drawn on the map in front of it. Each of these lines represented where the glacier was in the past few decades,” Oefner said. 

“I wanted to find a way to transport the scientific data and bring it into reality”.