Billionaire owner of Monaco football club taken into custody

The Russian billionaire owner of Monaco football club was in custody Tuesday, his lawyer confirmed, the latest twist in his legal battle with a Swiss art dealer who he claims cheated him of up to one billion dollars and Sotheby's auctioneers.

Billionaire owner of Monaco football club taken into custody
Dmitry Rybolovlev. Photo: AFP

The Russian billionaire owner of Monaco football club was in custody Tuesday, his lawyer confirmed, the latest twist in his legal battle with a Swiss art dealer who he claims cheated him of up to one billion dollars and Sotheby's auctioneers.

Police officers also carried out a search Tuesday morning of Dmitry Rybolovlev's luxury penthouse apartment in the principality, said a source close to the case.

Rybolovlev's lawyer Herve Temine confirmed the latest developments, while stressing the principle of the presumption of innocence.

Temine's colleague Thomas Giaccardi said the latest move came after the seizure and analysis of a mobile phone belonging to one of Rybolovlev's lawyers, Tetiana Bersheda.

Since 2015, Rybolovlev has been locked in a legal battle with Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier, who he accuses of having swindled him out of up to a billion dollars, by charging inflated fees.

When Rybolovlev's lawyer Bersheda produced an audio recording from her mobile phone that she said supported his case, the investigating magistrate in the case ordered text messages from the same phone to be extracted.

That led to Monaco prosecutors opening a corruption investigation against Rybolovlev in 2017.

His legal team has repeatedly argued that this analysis of the phone was a violation of the lawyer-client confidentiality. That issue is still being fought out in court, but some of the compromising text messages have already been leaked to the French press.

On October 2 this year, Rybolovlev opened a new front in his legal battle, launching a $380-million (333-million-euros) lawsuit against Sotheby's auction house through the New York courts.

In it, he accused the auction house of having helped Bouvier, their art advisor, carry out “the largest art fraud in history” — at his expense.

Rybolovlev says Bouvier tricked him over the acquisition of 38 works of art he bought from him over a decade for more than $2.1 billion.

“He repeatedly and blatantly misrepresented the acquisition prices for the paintings,” pocketing the difference himself, says the lawsuit.

Sotheby's has dismissed the lawsuit as “entirely without merit”.

In November 2017, it filed its own lawsuit against Rybolovlev in Switzerland and is seeking to have the action in New York dismissed.

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Aristocrat sues France for €350m over claim to Monaco throne

A French-born aristocrat is suing France for €351m in damages, claiming the country tricked his family out of inheriting the throne of Monaco a century ago.

Aristocrat sues France for €350m over claim to Monaco throne
Photo: Trish Hartmann/Flickr

Louis de Causans contends his relatives and consequently he would have been in the line of succession to the throne of the small principality had it not been for a “sleight of hand” by the French state in 1924.

The aristocrat claims that during the 1922-44 period of reign of Louis II of Monaco – who left no heirs – France took over Monaco by forging the rules of succession.

Louis II of Monaco. Photo: Wikicommons/Public Domain

This De Causans claims robbed him and his family of their birthright as another branch of the Grimaldis were placed instead on the throne.

“I want the truth to come out and this injustice carried out by France on my family to be corrected,” he told French daily Le Parisien.

“In truth my cousin Prince Albert (below) acceded to the throne by a sleight of hand,” he added, clarifying that his legal action wasn’t directed at Monaco’s ruler but rather at the French government.

Photo: AFP

“France found a solution to get its hands on Monaco. Afterwards, they carried out business as they pleased there.”

De Causans is adamant the Monaco throne should have passed to the Grimaldi family branch from which he descends, but that would’ve meant the principality would’ve had German Guillaume II de Wurtemberg-Urach as its leader.

“For France, on the brink of world war, the idea of a German ruling Monaco was just unthinkable,” said Jean-Marc Descoubes, Mr de Causans' lawyer.



A law was passed in 1911 recognising Louis's illegitimate daughter Charlotte, the daughter of his cabaret singer lover, as the heir to the throne.

Mr de Causans's lawyer claims it’s obvious that the current rulers of Monaco are in their regal position only because of the will of the French state.

“Normally in my milieu we keep a low profile and prefer not to stir up this sort of stuff but the truth must come out,” said De Causans.

“It’s a question of honour.”