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Art Dealer Accused of Jacking up the Price of Rare Works of Art by Millions of Dollars Overseas may Have Ripped off New York Galleries

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Art Dealer Accused of Jacking up the Price of Rare Works of Art

Art Dealer Accused of Jacking up the Price of Rare Works of Art


The case of an art collector and dealer who allegedly defrauded other art collectors out of millions of dollars is slowly pulling back the curtain on the art world’s dark underbelly of lies and deception – namely, how much dealers stand to gain, and how much collectors stand to lose.

Swiss businessman and art dealer Yves Bouvier is well-known among the world’s wealthiest art collectors. Bouvier is a collector himself, but often buys and sells expensive pieces for clients. He stores them, as well; Bouvier’s large art-shipping company and holdings in storage facilities known as freeports have made him extremely well-known in the world of high-end art. He is the largest client of a Swiss Freeport and owns more of the facilities in Singapore and Luxembourg. Freeports are sprawling, maximum-security storage sites that are often located near airports to allow wealthy travelers to store expensive valuables in duty-free zones. according to CNBC.

There is no customs duty payable when bringing art into the freeports, and art can be sold inside the freeports with no sales tax. Such taxes could add up to millions of dollars. The freeports have come under scrutiny by regulators in recent years for their secrecy and tax benefits. Bouvier insists that they are not used for money-laundering or tax-avoidance, but Bouvier is jacking up the prices of rare, valuable art by millions of dollars, CNBC reported.

Bouvier was arrested in Monaco in February as part of a fraud investigation focusing on several works purchased by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. Rybolovlev alleges that Bouvier inflated or misrepresented prices by millions of dollars, according to CNBC.

One of the works at the center of the scandal is was an Amadeo Modigliani sold by hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen. Rybolovlev bought the piece from Bouvier acting as the dealer for $118 million. Rybolovlev claims he uncovered Bouvier’s scheming ways when he later spoke to Cohen’s art adviser, Sandy Heller, and found out that Cohen sold the piece to Bouvier for $93.5 million—giving Bouvier a more than $20 million mark-up, including fees, CNBC reported.

Lawyers and art dealers familiar with the case say the scandal could be wide-reaching, extending into the top galleries and billionaire collectors in some of the biggest cities in the world, including New York, London and Hong Kong. More mark-ups by dealers and tax fraud, global money laundering and possibly bribery may be involved, according to CNBC.

Art dealers and galleries in New York also dealt frequently with Bouvier and now wonder just how many millions the accused shyster may have bled from them. Many collectors told CNBC they “welcome a case that could provide transparency into a multibillion-dollar market that remains largely unregulated and offers little disclosure.”

The case also involves works by Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Paul Gauguin, according to CNBC.

breakinglawsuitnews.com disclaimer: This article: Art Dealer Accused of Jacking up the Price of Rare Works of Art by Millions of Dollars Overseas may Have Ripped off New York Galleries was posted on Monday, March 16th, 2015 at 7:50 pm at breakinglawsuitnews.com and is filed under Fraud Lawsuits.

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