Maybe it is a coincidence or maybe it is by design but Dimtri Rybolovlev’s latest volley in his never ending war against Yves Bouvier has landed perfectly. The same day that Bouvier’s lawyers are arguing in a judge’s chambers that Monaco has no authority in the dispute between the two men—an argument that would seem to have a lot of merit—Rybolovlev announces in the New York Times that he’s returning Catherine Hutin-Blay’s paintings to her (no mention of the 58 drawings.) The New York Times gives it big play:
In what appears at first glance to be a simple, magnanimous act, a Russian billionaire is poised this week to return two Picassos, valued at $30 million, to the artist’s stepdaughter, who says the works, both portraits of her mother — Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife — were stolen from her. The businessman, Dmitry E. Rybolovlev, owner of one of the world’s most valuable art collections, said in an interview last week that he bought the works in good faith in 2013, without any hint that there was a question about their title.
“I feel solidarity with her, especially because there is a strong emotional link between the portraits of her and her mother,” Mr. Rybolovlev said in the interview from his penthouse apartment here overlooking the Mediterranean.
But Mr. Rybolovlev’s decision is much more than just a chivalrous, expensive gesture. The man from whom he bought the portraits, Yves Bouvier, is also Mr. Rybolovlev’s adversary in what has become perhaps the largest feud in the art world today. And by returning the art in such a public fashion, he is drawing attention to their broader fight.
The Billionaire, the Picassos and a $30 Million Gift to Shame a Middleman (The New York Times)