Russian oligarch to appeal Swiss closure of art dealer case

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Russian oligarch to appeal Swiss closure of art dealer case
AS Monaco President Dmitry Rybolovlev looks on during the French League Cup final football match between Monaco (ASM) and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP.

GENEVA.- Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev's lawyers said Friday he would appeal Swiss prosecutors' closure of his case against a top art dealer he accused of swindling him out of millions of dollars.

Rybolovlev, president of the AS Monaco football club, has alleged Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier charged him inflated prices on dozens of works he acquired for more than $2.1 billion.

He has brought cases against the dealer since 2015 in Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and Switzerland.

But after Rybolovlev suffered setbacks in the other jurisdictions, and saw his case against the art dealer thrown out in Monaco in 2019, the office of Geneva's top prosecutor said last January that it planned to drop the case.

A spokesman for the Geneva judicial authorities confirmed to AFP on Friday that the case had been officially closed.

Bouvier, who has always maintained his innocence in the case, hailed the decision.

"Today marks the end of a nightmare that has lasted six years," Bouvier said in a statement, hailing that "truth has prevailed... This is total victory."

But Rybolovlev's lawyers in Geneva made clear that the saga was not over, saying their client would appeal against the decision to close the proceedings.

"It is essential that this case, the most serious the art world has ever known, be duly considered and finally judged on its merits," lawyers Marc Henzelin and Sandrine Giroud said in a statement.

"The one-sided decision of the Public Prosecutor's Office to close the case is therefore contested and will be appealed to (Geneva's) Criminal Court," they said.

Rybolovlev had commissioned Bouvier to help build up an art collection to rival a small museum -- including works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rodin, Matisse and Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi".

Their relationship soured when Rybolovlev accused Bouvier of overcharging him.

The Russian later sold the Da Vinci at auction in 2017 for a record $450 million.

Rybolovlev was meanwhile himself charged with bribery and influence peddling in the case and Monaco's justice minister was forced to retire over claims he accepted bribes.

© Agence France-Presse

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