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They signed its agreements with a bank, an auction house and an art shipping company.

Ownership of the company was held through “bearer shares.” Bearer shares are simply certificates that allow whoever holds the paper to anonymously transfer or claim their value.

The oldest freeport, with the most art, is in Geneva.

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev has filed complaints against Bouvier in Monaco, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore, accusing him of fraudulently marking up the prices of paintings before selling them.

After reviewing the claims, a judge in Singapore lifted a freeze on Bouvier’s assets and a judge in Hong Kong followed suit. Not surprisingly, given the number of billionaires and art dealers who use Mossack Fonseca services, both men are clients of the firm. A representative for Bouvier said his client used offshore companies for well-established legal purposes.

The law firm’s records show at least five companies connected to Bouvier, although none appear to be related to the Rybolovlev case. Many trace the art market’s wild enthusiasm for modern art to a sale on a Monday evening in November 1997.

Held at Christie’s in New York, the auction of the Victor and Sally Ganz collection produced record valuations for paintings and proved a milestone in the transformation of art into a global commodity.

The key player in the transaction was a corporation based on Niue, a speck of an island in the South Pacific. Simsbury International, which was incorporated in April 1997, a month before purchasing the collection, appears to have been created solely for the Ganz transaction.

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