The Art Fraud Case and It Details

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Sotheby’s auction house is accused of fraud. The complaint, filed with the New York District Court, comes from the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. The billionaire, who gained his wealth in the fertilizer sector, mentions a conspiracy between Sotheby’s and the Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier.

According to Rybolovlev, he ultimately had to pay too much for a collection of artworks that he had purchased through Bouvier. Sotheby’s claims for damages of more than $ 380 million. The auction house and the Swiss art dealer, however, strongly reject the allegations.

Salvator Mundi

Rybolovlev bought the painting Salvator Mundi from Leonardo da Vinci five years ago at Bouvier. The artwork was to be sold at the Christie’s auction house in November last year for an amount of 450.3 million euros. This made the Salvator Mundi the most expensive painting in history.

  • Bouvier also provided the Russian billionaire with works by, among others, Klimt, Rothko, Modigliani and Picasso. In all, Rybolovlev would have paid EUR 2 billion to the Swiss art dealer for a collection of thirty-eight works. The Russian billionaire says that Bouvier was only entitled to a commission of 2.5 percent, but in reality had kept half of the income.
  • Rybolovlev accused Bouvier of charging illegal profiteering and began a series of proceedings against the Swiss art dealer three years ago. Sotheby’s, however, was involved in fourteen of the sold works.
  • According to Rybolovlev, the auction house would have inflated its appraisals when estimating the works in order to share a larger profit margin with Bouvier. According to the complaint, Sotheby’s intentionally and intentionally made the fraud plausible and credible.

At the beginning of 2015, Bouvier was arrested in Monaco on suspicion of fraud when he came to Rybolovlev to complete the sale of Rothko’s No.6 (Violet, Green and Red), which he had bought for around 70 million euros and with 80 million profit tried to resell the billionaire.

Rybolovlev demands over 850 million euros from the art broker through the courts, which was soon released. But the matter is difficult, especially after it had been leaked that the Russian billionaire had tried to use his influence in the principality to pressure the authorities to keep Bouvier in custody. As a result of the scandal, the then Minister of Justice of Monaco had to resign. From Law360 you can get the exact information on this.


Legal proceedings are already underway between Rybolovlev and Bouvier in Monaco, Switzerland and Singapore. The Russian billionaire says that Bouvier hired as an agent to buy works of art in his name. Later he would have come to the conclusion that the Swiss art dealer had bought the collection himself and would then have resold it to his customer with a large surcharge.

Bouvier denies any responsibility, however. Sotheby’s said in a reaction a desperate complaint that has no foundation. The company added to defend itself and its employees by all possible means against the unjustified allegations.