Steve Cohen’s Modigliani and $75 Million Leonardo at Heart of Yves Bouvier Case
Bouvier allegedly flipped the Leonardo for $127.5 million.
The case of freeport king Yves Bouvier, arrested in Monaco in late February and indicted for fraud and complicity in money laundering, keeps unraveling (see Arrest of Swiss Freeport Owner Yves Bouvier Over Art Fraud Ring Rocks Art World and Swiss Freeport King Yves Bouvier Will Stay in Custody for Extra 48 Hours).
The Financial Times reports that 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.
According to the FT, 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.
Dmitry Rybolovlev Claims Bouvier Overcharged Him
Meanwhile, Forbes Magazine has revealed the specific reasons why the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, with whom Bouvier had had a long-standing professional relationship, filed the criminal complaint against Bouvier that started it all.
According to Forbes, Bouvier’s downfall was set in motion on New Year’s Eve, during an evening which Rybolovlev enjoyed in the company of Sandy Heller, über-collector Steve Cohen’s art adviser (see Hedge Fund Honcho Steve A. Cohen Is Buyer of $101 Million Giacometti and Forbes’s 2015 Ranking of Billionaires Features Art Players Aplenty).
It was then that Heller dropped the bomb, by telling Rybolovlev about a stunning Amedeo Modigliani nude that 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.
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, according to FT. (See A Tale of Two Leonardos.)
Rybolovlev’s net worth is estimated at $8.5 billion and an art collection that includes Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Claude 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,” according to FT.
Follow artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.