Geneva to Close Probe into Russian Billionaire’s Art Complaint


Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier won another victory in his long-running feud with Russian billionaire client Dmitry Rybolovlev, after Geneva prosecutors announced their intention to close a probe into Rybolovlev’s accusations of fraud.

Prosecutor Yves Bertossa has written to both parties to inform them he will end the investigation soon, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said Tuesday. The decision can be appealed.

The dispute dates from 2015 when Rybolovlev accused Bouvier of overcharging him by about $1 billion for dozens of canvasses by Leonardo da Vinci, Rene Magritte and others. Rybolovlev said Bouvier violated fiduciary duties as his broker by massively inflating the price above what he paid to acquire the works.

Bouvier and his lawyers argued that he was never Rybolovlev’s broker and that the Russian was just a repeat customer willing to pay top prices. Lawyers for Bouvier and Rybolovlev declined to comment on Tuesday’s news, which was reported earlier by Le Temps.

Rybolovlev made his original complaint against Bouvier in Monaco, which prompted the Swiss art dealer’s arrest by a phalanx of policeman outside Rybolovlev’s Monaco penthouse. That complaint however was thrown out in late 2019 by a Monaco judge who said the investigations preceding Bouvier’s arrest were conducted unfairly. Rybolovlev’s appeal against the decision was rejected in July.

Local prosecutors decided to charge Rybolovlev in 2018 with corruption after it emerged that text messages from the Russian’s lawyer revealed friendly exchanges between his lawyer and Monaco justice officials, including invitations to Rybolovlev’s chalet in the Swiss Alps and coordination over Bouvier’s arrest in Monaco.

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