Dimitry Rybolovlev told the Manhattan Federal Court on Friday, January 12, that Sotheby’s auction house had been in cahoots with art dealer Yves Bouvier in cheating him out of millions of dollars as he built up his collection of valuable art.

Rybolovlev, the majority owner of AS Monaco football team, said he implicitly trusted Bouvier.

“So when you trust people, and I’m not a person who trusts easily, but when a person is like a member of your family,” Rybolovlev said, before wiping tears from his eyes: “There is a point in time and that you start to completely and utterly trust a person.”

Rybolovlev was speaking through an interpreter on the second and last day of giving testimony in the case which he said it wasn’t just about money: “So it’s not an issue of money. Well, not only of money. It’s important for the art market to be more transparent. Because … when the largest company in this industry is involved in actions of this sort, you know, clients don’t stand a chance.”

In an opening statement earlier in the week, Sotheby’s lawyer Sara Shudofsky said Rybolovlev was “trying to make an innocent party pay for what somebody else did to him.”

Rybolovlev’s lawyer, Daniel Kornstein, said in his opening statement that Sotheby’s had joined Bouvier in an elaborate fraud. “Sotheby’s had choices, but they chose greed,” he said.

In the last month of 2023, Rybolovlev and Bouvier agreed to settle their own dispute, which had been running for eight years with multiple court cases in numerous jurisdictions.

PHOTO: Dimitry Rybolovlev Reuters