Art Dealer Olivier Thomas Placed Under Investigation Again for Picasso Thefts

The stepdaughter of Pablo Picasso, Catherine Hutin-Blay, accused art dealer Olivier Thomas last year of stealing three of Picasso’s works from her, two of which were then sold to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. The pieces were originally held in storage by Le Freeport, located in Geneva, Switzerland, which was then headed Yves Bouvier, who is no longer in charge of the facility since being accused of collaborating with the dealer on the theft. Thomas was apprehended by French authorities in May of last year, and six months later, during a court appearance in France, said that he had never seen the works before and that they “meant nothing to him.” Though he was released after his testimony, the investigation continued. This led to the discovery of several digital photographs, which he took himself, of the artworks on Thomas’s laptop, writes Hili Perlson of Artnet.

Thomas was placed under investigation again on July 6, 2016, for “abuse of trust, fraud, concealment, and laundering” said Parisian judge Isabelle Rich-Flament, who ordered that he be brought in for another round of questioning. Rybolovlev paid nearly $30 million to Bouvier for the works that were discovered at his home and subsequently repossessed by the French Ministry of the Interior’s Banditry Repression Brigade. Bouvier, who had been entrusted with the works by Hutin-Blay, was then given a $30 million fine for “harboring the theft” of the two pieces. Bouvier would have made up to $11 million on the sale, which Thomas would’ve received a two percent commission on.