Singapore Court of Appeal Unfreezes Yves Bouvier’s Assets
The Singapore Court of Appeal has unfrozen the assets of Yves Bouvier. The Swiss businessman and art dealer was accused by Russian billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev of fraud over an alleged $1 billion in markups on masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and more.
Criminal complaints against Bouvier were filed in January in Monaco. In March, Bouvier’s assets were frozen by a Singapore High Court. Arrested and subsequently indicted for fraud, Bouvier stepped down from his position as head of Luxembourg’s Le Freeport in April.
On Friday, August 21, Singapore’s highest court lifted the worldwide Mareva injunction against Bouvier, who’s a permanent resident of Singapore, on the grounds that there was no risk of him dissipating his assets.
In addition, the court also found an abuse of process in the injunction obtained against Bouvier by two companies linked to Rybolovlev.
The court held that the companies failed to follow procedure by not giving Bouvier notice of the application, and informing international media of the injunction shortly after it was obtained.
“We are satisfied that it was deployed as an instrument of oppression to inflict commercial prejudice on Mr Bouvier,” Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon wrote in an 89-page ruling on Friday.
The court also quashed two similar injunctions against Tania Rappo, who is involved in the initial dispute, and MEI Invest, Bouvier’s company.
The bitter legal battle between Bouvier and Rybolovlev involves 38 masterpieces acquired by Rybolovlev in sales arranged by Bouvier through MEI Invest.
The two were introduced to each other by Rappo in 2003. Their relationship went sour when, on New Years’ Eve, the Russian billionaire found out that a Modigliani he had bought through Bouvier for $118 million was sold for “only” $93.5 million by the original seller, mega-collector Steve Cohen.
However, Bouvier contends that the dispute originated from Rybolovlev’s disappointment when the Swiss dealer failed to deliver a €140 million Mark Rothko painting. He also argues that the price markups represent the percentage he is entitled to as an independent seller.
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