Sotheby’s abused its “privilege, power and reputation” to help dupe a Russian billionaire out of millions of dollars as he amassed a world-class art collection, a lawyer for the businessman argued on the first day of a closely watched trial in New York.
But the auction house says billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev partly has himself to blame for allowing his old friend and Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier to overcharge him for four rare works, including “Salvator Mundi,” a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci that set a record for the most expensive artwork ever sold in 2017.
The trial in Rybolovlev’s lawsuit against Sotheby’s began Monday before US District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan. The billionaire is seeking more than $232.5 million in damages.
“But money is not the only issue,” Rybolovlev’s attorney Daniel Kornstein said. “This is about public interest, it’s about people who are not just wealthy. Anyone could be a victim.”