CAA Media Finance is representing worldwide distribution rights to a new documentary feature from the producers of “The Lost Leonardo,” Variety can reveal.
The untitled project follows a Swiss art dealer and Russian oligarch caught in a web of secrets, lies and mad money, telling the inside story of an international, billion-dollar game where power is the ultimate currency. The film is produced by Andreas Dalsgaard for Elk Film (Denmark) and Christoph Jörg for Pumpernickel Films (France) and directed by Dalsgaard, whose previous credits include “The Lost Leonardo” and “The War Show.”
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The pulled-from-the-headlines documentary follows the scandal that erupted in 2015 with the arrest of the Swiss businessman and free port magnate Yves Bouvier, “a very discreet guy who was suddenly arrested in Monaco, accused of swindling a billion dollars from the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev…[through] the purchase of 38 masterworks,” according to Dalsgaard.
The director described it as “the biggest art collection in private hands gathered in the 21st century,” with a value of $2.3 billion. “We’re talking about Leonardo da Vinci paintings, Picasso paintings, Rothkos. Top of the line.”
In the aftermath of the arrest, Bouvier and Rybolovlev began fighting a series of legal battles in seven different countries, with accusations and counter-accusations flying back and forth in the media. The battle continues to this day.
The untitled film recreates two decades of their peace and war through witness accounts, lawyers, investigative journalists, writers, and hundreds of court documents, unraveling the truth behind the so-called “Bouvier Affair.” “What we’re telling here is the story about how they built their collection and how the war came about, and following it all the way up until today,” said Dalsgaard. CAA Media Finance is arranging financing for the film.
The producers were in Copenhagen this week pitching the buzzy project during CPH:FORUM, the international financing and co-production event held during the Copenhagen Intl. Documentary Film Festival (CPH:DOX), which runs March 23-April 3.
The film comes on the heels of the acclaimed documentary “The Lost Leonardo,” which tells the story of the Salvator Mundi, an obscure portrait of Jesus Christ discovered by two art dealers in 2005, who came to believe it was a lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci. The painting – which the duo bought for just $1,175 – would go on to sell at auction for $450 million in 2017, a record sale for a work of art.
Variety’s Owen Glieberman described “The Lost Leonardo” as “an enthralling art-world mystery,” adding: “Andreas Koefoed’s documentary hooks you with the mystery of whether the Salvator Mundi is an authentic painting by Leonardo da Vinci. But the film’s real subject is how art becomes power.”
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