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

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.

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“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.

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