Sotheby’s to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev: You have no one to blame but yourself

Sotheby's to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev: You have no one to blame but yourself

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev concluded preliminary testimony on Friday in the Accent Delight International v. Sotheby’s trial currently underway in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Speaking to ADI Lawyers, Rybolovlev explained how he learned of the fraud allegedly committed against him by the Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier, who, Rybolovlev asserts, was in cahoots with the auction house Sotheby’s in charging him more than $1 billion for the artworks.

According to Rybolovlev, after years of being satisfied with Bouvier and the works the dealer helped him acquire, she became skeptical when the Vienna outlet resorted to… Deer Standard It was reported in September 2013 that Sotheby’s had sold works by Gustav Klimt Water Snakes II (1907) for $120 million in 2012. Rybolovlev thought at the time that this couldn’t be true. He bought it from Bouvier for $183.3 million that same year. Rybolovlev’s manager, Mikhail Sazonov, was made aware of the story by Bouvier, who assured him that their dealings were on the rise, according to Rybolovlev’s testimony.

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Then, in 2014, The New York Times Report on the private sale of a work recently attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator MundiFor an amount ranging between $75 million and $80 million. Rybolovlev, although an intermediary company, also bought this work from Bouvier, but for $127.5 million.

He said that Rybolovlev contacted Bouvier, who reassured him that journalists never know the actual price at which something is sold and, moreover, that there are profit margins for dealers and other expenses to take into account.

(Bouvier, who is not a party to the ongoing trial, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, has never been convicted of a criminal offense related to his business dealings with Rybolovlev, and in December he and the Russian billionaire reached a settlement over various legal disputes in Switzerland.)

“That’s when doubts began to swirl around us,” Rybolovlev said. Especially since, Rybolovlev says, he asked Bouvier to sell some of his possessions, a venture in which Bouvier had not succeeded at the time due to problems in the “market,” an answer which Rybolovlev says made him wonder whether he would ever do so. Overpayments for art.

That same year, while having lunch with a friend at the Eden Rock Hotel in St. Barths, Rybolovlev met art consultant Sandy Heller — an advisor to the famous hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen — who quickly placed him on retainer. During their meal, it turned out that Heller was on the selling side of a Modigliani portrait that Rybolovlev had just purchased through Bouvier.

“Heller then offered me a different and higher price than Bouvier,” Rybolovlev said in court. “The mutual friend we were dining with thought I was having a heart attack. I was turning pale. I quickly realized this was the case for more than one plate.

At the end of the plaintiff’s lawyer’s cross-examination, Rybolovlev said he was angry: at Tanya Rabo, whom he thought was a friend; In Bouvier, on charges of lying to him; And at Sotheby’s to help fool him, in his opinion. He said that his confidence in Bouvier and Sotheby’s at that time was absolute.

“Sotheby’s makes it difficult for people like me, who have experience in the business, to know what’s going on. [This lawsuit] It’s not about the money.” – Rybolovlev said. “It is important that the art market has transparency. When the largest and most respected companies in the industry are involved in secrets like these, their customers don’t stand a chance.

The fact that Rybolovlev ultimately paid whatever price Bouvier mentioned, and in whatever way Bouvier suggested, was the focus of Sotheby’s lawyer Markus Asner. After repeating Rybolovlev’s clarion call for transparency, Asner reminded him that he had kept his identity secret from sellers at every turn in search of a lower price, via Bouvier, and in case… Monday The purchase followed Bouvier’s alleged plan, set out in an email, to “shake”. [the] Confidence and comfort. [the] morale” of sellers by withdrawing from the planned display.

Asner’s questioning continued with a series of questions that may have been inspired by a Charles Dickens novel. David Copperfield. “You weren’t born rich, were you? Did you go to medical school and train as a cardiologist? You graduated with honors and quickly started a business?”

With each significant event in Rybolovlev’s life—founding a company with his father, learning how to trade stocks, making his first million, taking a majority stake in Russian fertilizer producer Uralkali, which would eventually make him a billionaire—Asner wondered, “And when do you choose?” And lawyers and accountants, you always hired competent, dedicated people, right?

The style of questioning evolved, somewhat awkwardly at times due to the need to show documents in Russian and English, into the argument that Rybolovlev ultimately had no one to blame but himself. He had power of attorney for both entities buying the artworks, Xitrans and ADI. Bouvier’s main contact over the years was Rybolovlev’s employee, Mikhail Sazonov. The art was purchased with his money in transactions he signed. He never sought outside advice from anyone other than Bouvier.

“Are you familiar with the phrase ‘the buck stops here?’” Asner asked. “No. But I get it. “And that’s true,” Rybolovlev said.

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