Is Swiss Freeport King Yves Bouvier Free on €10M Bail, or Not?

Monaco attorney general Jean-Pierre Dreno gives us cryptic responses.

Bouvier. Courtesy


According to reports, Swiss freeport king Yves Bouvier has been released from police custody in Monaco. He was detained after Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who owns the Monaco football club, complained to Monaco authorities that Bouvier had manipulated prices on artworks he sold to him.

Reached in Monaco via phone, Monaco attorney general Jean-Pierre Dreno gave artnet News opaque answers about Bouvier’s status.

Asked to confirm Bouvier’s release on bail, he said: “He’s been indicted and placed under judicial supervision. But I have to respect legal confidentiality so I cannot tell you anything.” He added:  “One of the obligations is the payment of a bail. The payment will be done over three installments.” (See: Swiss Freeport King Yves Bouvier Will Remain In Custody For An Additional 48 Hours and €10 Million Bail for Yves Bouvier, Indicted for Defrauding Dmitry Rybolovlev.)

In a report last week in the Financial Times, Dreno confirmed the arrest but declined to elaborate. According to the most recent report in the Financial Times by Georgina Adam, Dreno said Bouvier is “suspected of selling millions of dollars’ worth of art by the likes of Picasso, Modigliani, and Gauguin to the Rybolovlev family trust at inflated prices.”

News of Bouvier’s detainment broke on February 25 when Arts Media Agency reported that Bouvier, “patron of the Natural Le Coultre group–a company specialised in the stocking and servicing of artworks—and the most important tenant of the Ports Francs Genevois, was placed in custody in Monaco.”

Bouvier was suspected of money laundering and manipulating the prices of artworks.

“We believe Bouvier was using offshore companies to buy and sell art, with both the buyer and seller not identified,” lawyer for the Rybolovlev trust Tetiana Bershada told the FT as per a report today. Bershada further said she thought “the investigation…carried out by the Monaco authorities…could render the world art market in general more transparent.”

The report outlines how Bouvier has built up a massive art empire. He is the largest client of the Swiss freeport in Geneva with a whopping SFr100 billion worth of art; in 2005, he created the Singapore freeport and is its principal investor; and in Asia, he is advising the Chinese government in setting up a freeport in Beijing. In Singapore, Bouvier has also invested in a real estate project known as Fort Canning, which will house a branch of the private Paris Museum La Pinacothèque.

Artnet News was unable to contact Bouvier’s lawyers, but in a statement quoted in the FT, his attorneys Luc Brossollet and Charles Lecuyer said he “vigorously denies any responsibility,” and added that Rybovlovlev’s allegations are “highly questionable.”


Additional reporting by Coline Milliard in London.



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