Russian billionaire who accused Sotheby's of art fraud loses his lawsuit

Russian billionaire and fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev lost his case against auction house Sotheby's in federal court on Tuesday. Rybolovlev accused the company of helping art dealer Yves Bouvier defraud him out of more than $100m, but jurors in New York found against him on all counts.

Bouvier for more than a decade had acted as the billionaire's agent, helping him buy 38 masterworks for more than $2 billion. Rybolovlev's suit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan said he believed that Bouvier was conducting "hard-fought negotiations with sellers" on his behalf, when in reality, he was inflating the actual sales prices by nearly 100%. … The suit said Sotheby's, as a broker for the transactions, helped Bouvier "justify the fraudulent prices he charged" Rybolovlev's companies Accent Delight International Limited and Xitrans Finance Limited.

He's already settled with Bouvier, and now Sotheby's won't be augmenting whetever he got. An illustration of the fraud and why jurors perhaps didn't give a hoot about it comes in the form of the Leonardo da Vinci painting Salvator Mundi. Bouvier bought it from Sotheby's for $83 million, sold it a day later to Rybolovlev for $127.5 million, and Rybolovlev later sold it for $450.3 million, setting a world record. Speculator Mundi.

Previously: Spotting art forgeries isn't easy