Swiss Freeport King Yves Bouvier Will Stay in Custody for Extra 48 Hours

Never cross a Russian oligarch.

“Freeport King” Yves Bouvier, who has been accused of defrauding art collectors including the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, will remain in custody for an extra 48 hours, following his arrest on Wednesday evening, Le Temps reports (see Arrest of Freeport Owner Yves Bouvier Over Art Fraud Ring Rocks Art World). The Swiss newspaper also mentions a source claiming that a meeting between Bouvier and Rybolovlev was due to take place in Monaco on Friday afternoon.

Bouvier is the majority shareholder and president of Natural Le Coultre S.A., a global storage business overseeing free ports in Luxembourg and Singapore. Through his companies, Bouvier is also a backer of high end art magazine Whitewall China. He was arrested alongside two other Swiss nationals in relation to the fraud allegations. One of them was released on Thursday evening, but the other one, a Swiss female Monaco resident, will also remain in custody until Sunday morning.

“After having worked for more than 10 years with Mr Bouvier,” Tetiana Bersheda, a lawyer for the Rybolovlev family, said in a short statement on the case, “the Rybolovlev family received some information about possible fraud and manipulation of prices on the art market by Mr Bouvier and his accomplices.”

A Strenuous Relationship

However, the report in Le Temps seems to suggest a strenuous relationship between the Swiss businessman and the fabulously wealthy Russian. Bouvier is “hunted down” (traqué) by Rybolovlev, the newspaper writes, which also quotes a statement released by Bouvier’s lawyers, Luc Brossollet and Charles Lecuyer:

Under cover of Cypriot trusts and foreign companies, Mr Dmitri Rybolovlev claims in Monaco that he owns these pictures—an ownership that he is contesting in Geneva because of his divorce. He claims that their sales, which were completed in due form, involved imagined maneuvers. These are solely the fruit of his highly contestable and unilateral evaluation of the events.

According to the Guardian, Rybolovlev’s art collection is worth an estimated $1 billion, and features the work of key modern masters including Picasso, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. The complaint has been filed by his family trust, but Le Temps reports that the oligarch will be questioned as a witness and an art expert.


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