Art Dealer Yves Bouvier Questioned Over Stolen Picasso Sales

The Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier, the head of art storage, shipping, and servicing company Natural Le Coultre, as well as the Geneva, Luxembourg, and Singapore freeports, – who was previously arrested in Monaco on suspicion of defrauding art collectors – was questioned yesterday, by a judge in Paris who is investigating the case of the alleged theft of approximately 60 works of art by Picasso.

The judge, Isabelle Rich-Flament, is investigating a complaint from the daughter of the artist’s wife Jacqueline Picasso that was filed in March. Pablo Picasso’s stepdaughter, Catherine Hutin-Blay, claims the works were stolen from a store in a Paris suburb run by Art Transit, a Bouvier family company.

Bouvier sold the works for €36 million, or £26 million to the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. But the Bouvier’s spokesman says that he “never suspected they could have been stolen” and had proceeded with all due diligence – which included consulting the Art Loss Register – which indicated the works were not registered as stolen.

The inquiry in Paris was launched in March after Hutin-Blay learned that two portraits of her mother, dated 1957, were in Rybolovlev’s collection. Bouvier also sold 58 drawings dated 1955. The Swiss art dealer’s lawyers and spokesman confirm the sales; it is reported in the Art Newspaper.

Hutin-Blay told French police that the 58 works disappeared from the same store. The Russian collector’s solicitor confirmed to the Art Newspaper that he is ready to give everything back, if they were indeed stolen. Bouvier is co-operating with the French judge after winning a judgement in a Singapore court of appeal to unfreeze his assets around the world. Previously the Swiss art dealer’s assets had been blocked at the request of Rybolovlev.

Image: Yves Bouvier © Vanessa Franklin

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