Bouvier Affair, or How Vladimir Scherbakov Found Himself in a Scam

Written By Alla Levin
October 03, 2018
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How Vladimir Scherbakov Found Himself in a Scam

The world of art can sometimes be threatening, and it can be so good, but sometimes we also get to see the not-so-nice part – for example, when Vladimir Scherbakov, who’s a Russian oligarch (and former Soviet politician) has fallen the victim of an art scheme for the most famous yves bouvier.

Soon, on the internet appeared a list with all the paintings owned by Scherbakov: Pablo Picasso (“Naked Man and Woman”), Claude Monet (“Le Rio de la Salute”), Joan Miró (“Woman Dreaming of Escape”), Breugel the Younger (“Summer Harvest Time”), Francis Bacon (“Study from the Human Body after Muybridge”). We cannot imagine how this did not make him happy in the first place.

He got to be defrauded of several hundred million dollars

Claude Monet Le Rio de la Salute
Claude Monet “Le Rio de la Salute.”

Deception can be a difficult, tricky thing, especially if you’re a billionaire that’s looking for a way to spend his time (and money). Some develop an interest in art. It’s true; it comes it is with risks.

But they always try to be cautious; a friendly art maker insider will be happy to help you for a fee. In theory, you’re happy with your situation, but then you find out that you’ve been defrauded of several hundred million dollars. That’s not so nice.

Hobaica’s business was no good

After this, the Scherbakovs went to see Thierry Hobaica make it easy for their collection. Hobaica was an employee at Galerie Jan Krugier, Ditesheim & Cie before he became an art dealer. He asked for a commission of 5% from each purchase. It sounded good at first.

However, the selling price was inflated big time.

There were some irregularities in Hobaica’s business, and it started to raise questions about his extensive use of offshore companies, such as East Pacific Development Company Ltd. Of course, he then lied, saying he used them to protect the real acquirer.

From the moment he stopped all transactions with the help of Servin International, he couldn’t find a good explanation of why it happened. This made the Scherbakovs become more and more suspicious, and then they found out the truth.

What’s the truth, exactly?

An official complaint was filed in Geneva, in the year 2015. The collectors refused to talk to the press, so the exact number of damages are still unknown. The collection was made out of a total number of 40 artworks, and the price was estimated at $607 million.

Of course, Hobaica denied that he did anything wrong – he claimed that he only made $31 million from when he was an employee – the agent of Scherbakov. However, that price is actually bigger.

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