PARIS, Sept. 15 (UPI) — Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier left a Paris court room on $30.48 million bail after he was charged with improperly selling two Picasso paintings.
He allegedly sold the artworks in 2013 to Russian oligarch Dmitri Rybolovlev, aware they were stolen from Catherine Hutin-Blay, Pablo Picasso‘s step-daughter. Hutin-Blay filed a legal complaint in March, saying three Picasso paintings and 58 drawings from his sketchbook had been stolen.
The amount of Bouvier’s bail equaled the amount paid for the two paintings, “Tete de femme, profil” [“Woman’s head, profile”] and “Espagnole a l’eventail” [“Spanish woman with a fan”]. He immediately paid $5.6 million, and Bouvier’s lawyer, Francis Spitzer, told the French newspaper Le Parisien, “When he found out that he was under an international arrest warrant issued by the French justice, he presented himself to the authorities.
Bouvier, 52, was charged on counts of “concealed theft.”
There has been no suggestion Rybolovlev was aware the paintings were stolen. He has purchased more than $2 billion in art in the past decade and is involved in a separate legal conflict with Bouvier, who Rybolovlev claims overcharged him for many artworks.
Bouvier denied wrongdoing Monday, saying he bought the two paintings and the sketchbook drawings in 2010 from a trust operated by Hutin-Blay, then sold them to Rybolovlev “in good faith.” Hutin-Blay’s lawyers said no consent to sell the paintings was ever given, nor did she receive payment.