Private collectors seem to be everywhere nowadays. We’ve all heard of the Bouvier affair – you know, the scandal with the wealthy Russian client, that showed how there are many players in the world of art who try to make themselves rich by stealing.
Let’s take an example: in 2017, the 15th of November to be exact, the Salvator Mundi painting, made by Leonardo da Vinci, was auctioned by Christie’s New York for a huge sum of money: $450.3 million. This made it the most expensive painting from the world. Before it was bought by Saudi Crown Prince named Mohammed bin Salman (for the price of $127.5 million), the painting was part of Dmitry Rybolovlev’s collection, who was a Russian businessman.
What happened then?
Dmitri Rybolovlev, like so many others, asked for the help of an art middleman – his name was Yves Bouvier and made its money with the help of free ports. The agreement was a simple one: between 1% and 2% of the price of the artwork.
For da Vinci’s work, Rybolovlev gives him $2.55 million. After a year, Rybolovlev finds an article, in which it was written that the seller of Salvator Mundi received *only* 75 to 80 million dollars. Bouvier pocket about 50 million dollars, without telling his client. When people started to find out about this, he tried to convince the Russian that it’s only a media manipulation. That same year, Rybolovlev found out that the Genevois got 118 million dollars during his acquisition of a canvas of Modigliani, which was called ‘Naked blue cushion’. Its seller got here 93.5 million dollars, and the rest went right into the pockets of the intermediary.
Bouvier was working from 2003 for this client, when it all got out. However, before 2015, when he founds its end with Dmitry Rybolovlev, he produced nearly a billion dollars. For a famous magazine, Bouvier said that he used all of his information in arts to get and resell works, up to even 50% more expensive than the original purchase price. He also applied the standard 2% to 5% fee. Some other source said that these overcharges could be even the 80% of the initial price.
Yves Bouvier has been investigated for this thing in the United States of the America, France, Switzerland, and Monaco.
Of course, the scammers have fun
New scandals, especially in the last years according to several sources, have included intermediaries who deceive their customers and inflate the odds of some of the works. There are many of them. Ever since the 1980s, private collectors came to the market. The demand for works grew, so it fueled the greed in the merchants and intermediaries. It became hard to find trustworthy professionals and to make the difference between them a