Dmitry Rybolovlev is accusing renowned art dealer of aiding scheme in which he was overcharged $1 billion for some 38 works of art
Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev has brought a case against Sotheby’s at the Manhattan federal court, claiming that auction house, one of the world’s largest brokers of art, aided a scheme that led him to hugely overpay for artworks.
Sotheby’s in turn has accused the magnate of not having followed vital steps to protect himself from fraud.
According to the businessman, the New York-headquartered auction house aided and abetted the Swiss art dealer and art adviser Yves Bouvier in committing fraud against him by overcharging him by a billion dollars in the acquisition of dozens of works of art.
The fertilizer magnate is trying to hold Sotheby’s responsible for what his lawyers claim is a loss of over $160 million. Rybolovlev’s attorneys said Bouvier pocketed the sum by buying famous artworks from Sotheby’s before selling them to the businessman at marked up prices.
All in all, Rybolovlev, worth $6.4 billion by Forbes’ estimate, reportedly spent about $2 billion on art from 2002 to 2014 to acquire a world-class art collection through purchases by two of his companies, including Accent Delight International and Xitrans Finance.
According to Rybolovlev’s lawyer Daniel Kornstein, a London-based Sotheby’s executive was part of a group of professionals who were in on an elaborate fraud.
“As a result of participating in the fraud, Sotheby’s made a lot of money,” Kornstein said. “Sotheby’s had choices, but they chose greed.”
Sotheby’s attorney Sara Shudofsky told the jurors in an opening statement that the billionaire was “trying to make an innocent party pay for what somebody else did to him.”
According to Shudofsky, the billionaire had “good reason to be angry with himself” after spending hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase art masterpieces without taking “the most basic steps” to protect himself from a dealer who’d deceived him.
“Sotheby’s didn’t know anything about those lies,” the lawyer said. “Sotheby’s had no knowledge of and didn’t participate in any misconduct.”
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