Dmitry Rybolovlev accused Sotheby’s of helping an art dealer trick him into overpaying for valuable masterpieces including Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ which became the most expensive artwork ever sold. Rybolovlev, ranked as the world’s 180th richest person with an estimated $11.4bn fortune, sued Sotheby’s in New York claiming the auction house inflated the estimated value of artworks he had expressed interest in buying, including pieces by Klimt, Modigliani and Magritte.
However, according to the judge, Rybolovlev and his advisers later “discovered that Yves Bouvier, the art broker who assisted in acquiring the works, had cheated his client by buying the works himself for one price and charging them another price – tens of millions of dollars higher”. Rybolovlev launched legal action against Bouvier for misleading him over the value of 38 artworks worth more than $ 1bn. Bouvier denied the claims, and last month the claim was settled out of court.
A spokesperson for Sotheby’s said: “Sotheby’s strictly adhered to all legal requirements, financial obligations, and industry best practices during the transactions of these artworks. Any suggestion that Sotheby’s was aware of the buyer’s alleged misconduct or intention to defraud Mr Rybolovlev is false.”