Monaco Court Throws Out Case Of Russian Billionaire And Swiss Art Dealer

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Russian billionaire and president of AS Monaco Dmitry Rybolovlev.

Russian billionaire and president of AS Monaco Dmitry Rybolovlev. Photo: Franck Nataf

On Wednesday, the Court of Revision in Monaco dismissed the Bouvier Affair, five years after Russian oligarch Dmitri Rybolovlev filed a complaint for fraud and money laundering against the Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier.

The country’s highest court confirmed the decision of the Monaco Court of Appeal (December 12, 2019) to cancel all criminal proceedings against Bouvier. This puts an end to the legal and media battle that began in Monaco in January 2015, when Rybolovlev accused the art dealer of overcharging him around $1 billion for various works of art.

The criminal dispute between the two men will continue in Geneva, Switzerland, where the president of AS Monaco is suing Bouvier for fraud, abuse of trust and money laundering on the sale of 38 works of art over 12 years. In Monaco, the case concerned three paintings, by Da Vinci, Gauguin and Rothko, purchased by Rybolovlev for which Bouvier was charged in February 2015 for fraud committed during these three transactions.

“This outcome has come about for purely procedural reasons—and not because of an absence of evidence against Yves Bouvier,” read a statement sent Wednesday evening to Forbes Monaco by Rybolovlev’s attorneys, Me Hervé Temime and Me Thomas Giaccardi. “Over the past six months, several hearings have been carried out in Geneva, including one on June 29. This shows that the investigation is progressing despite the limitations connected to the pandemic, and the delaying tactics of Bouvier.

"As a reminder, from 2003 to 2015 Bovuier was mandated by Rybolovlev family companies to arrange for the acquisition of numerous works of art. He made them believe that he was negotiating the best price for them with the owners of the works when, in reality, he was negotiating to maximize his own profit. He described to them in detail purely imaginary negotiations, whereas he had already negotiated—for himself—a price much lower than that which he claimed to have managed to obtain. Deceived by this fraudulent scheme, the companies of the Rybolovlev family paid him, for twelve years, hundreds of millions of euros in unauthorized markups.”

Bouvier, in a statement released today though his lawyers, Cabinet d'avocats d'Antin, said “It is a total and definitive victory in Monaco. For the last five years, I have been claiming my innocence, and today I have been vindicated by the Monaco courts.”

Rybolovlev is now the subject of three criminal investigations for corruption and abuse of justice in relation to his attacks on Bouvier in Monaco, France and Switzerland. On May 28, 2020, the Monaco justice system—who had evidence of text messages indicating Rybolovlev had invited Monaco’s then justice minister Philippe Narmino to his chalet in the Swiss Alps—rejected his appeal for charges to be dropped. 

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.