The Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev is suing Sotheby’s accusing the auction house of collaborating with an art adviser in order to create inflated valuations for works of art resulting in Rybolovlev paying more money to purchase them than their actual worth. The trial of the case is expected to begin at the federal court of Manhattan today, Jan. 8, 2024.
Amongst the works of art were ‘Salvator Mundi’ a depiction of Christ by Leonardo da Vinci, as well as pieces by Klimt, Modigliani, Magritte, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Matisse.
The 57-year old businessman and owner of the island of Scorpios, previously owned by Aristotle Onassis, paid a whopping 2 billion dollars for a vast collection of world-class art.
Rybolovlev filed a lawsuit against Yves Bouvier, a man posing as an art adviser working on behalf of the oligarch when in fact he was overpricing the works of art with many of the sales taking place at Sotheby’s. According to the Businessman’s lawyer the auction house aided Bouvier in his actions and is an accomplice to the fraud.
According to The Guardian, a spokesperson for Sotheby’s stated, “Sotheby’s strictly adheres to all legal requirements, financial obligations, and industry best practices during the transactions of these art pieces. Any suggestion that Sotheby’s was aware of alleged wrongdoings or the buyer’s intent to deceive Mr. Rybolovlev is false.”
This is one of the world’s longest art disputes with its outcome awaited with great interest.