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The Bouvier Affair: A perfect story about the art of deception

The dispute has gripped the art world since 2015, and has become the most notorious corruption scandal in Monaco since the Second World War. But did Swiss art dealer Bouvier betray his Russian oligarch client Rybolovlev, or was it the other way around? Kim Sengupta investigates

Tuesday 07 January 2020 17:41 GMT
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Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch, was Yves Bouvier’s main client before he became his arch-enemy
Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch, was Yves Bouvier’s main client before he became his arch-enemy (AFP)

Reflecting on the tempestuous and traumatic last few years of his life, during which he was arrested, enmeshed in litigation costing millions and saw much of his business disappear, Yves Bouvier, at last, believes there is a light at the end of the very dark tunnel. The charges brought against him by Dmitry Rybolovlev, a billionaire Russian oligarch, friend of royalty and politicians, who claimed that art dealer Bouvier had swindled him out of a billion dollars, has suffered a massive setback.

In a damning verdict, a court in Monaco, where proceedings are taking place, has dismissed the case, declaring that officials had acted improperly. Links had been uncovered between investigators and a lawyer acting for Rybolovlev in their pursuit of Bouvier.

This meant, read the judgment, that “all investigations were conducted in a biased and unfair way” and that “serious anomalies” had “permanently compromised the balance and rights of the parties”.

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