As it became known on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, the Supreme Court of Monaco upheld the decision of the lower court, upholding the verdict issued in December 2019. According to the court, the criminal case against art dealer Yves Bouvier should be terminated because the investigation was conducted in a biased and unfair manner under conditions that seriously upset the legal balance between the parties.
The story began back in 2015 when a Russian billionaire accused his dealer of fraud and misappropriation of almost $ 1 billion that Bouvier received by selling 38 works of art to Rybolovlev at intentionally high prices.
This includes the famous, attributed to the brush of Leonardo da Vinci, Savior of the World. It was acquired by Rybolovlev for $ 128 million in 2013. The canvas was bought by Bouvier shortly before that for $ 75-80 million.
One of the main reasons for the court to issue such a verdict is still considered the so-called Monaco Gate. It was found that Rybolovlev’s representatives bribed former Minister of Justice Philip Narmino in order to influence the court’s decision. The corruption scandal also testified to Rybolovlev’s close ties with senior police and justice officials of Monaco and led to the resignation of both the Minister of Justice and some of his subordinates. The same scandal became a formal reason for Bouvier to file a counterclaim against Rybolovlev accusing him of corruption, the production of which is still ongoing.
As a matter of fact, the investigation in the case in which Bouvier is accused of fraud in the sale of 38 works of art to Rybolovlev continues in Switzerland. Bouvier, as before, denies all allegations of fraud and artificial price increases, claiming in an interview that he was not an agent or adviser, like any art dealer, he had the right to tell Rybolovlev whatever price he wanted and which Rybolovlev was ready to pay. The fact that Bouvier received wages from Rybolovlev, in his opinion, did not mean that he worked for a collector. According to Bouvier, this money covered his administrative, insurance, and transportation expenses, as well as was charged for providing his personal guarantee of the authenticity of the works of art that he sold and possible reputational risks.
Despite the final verdict of the court in Monaco, it is obvious that this story is still far from over. In addition to Switzerland, Rybolovlev v. Bouvier trials are still ongoing in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.