Ferraris, luxury homes and a Basquiat: Australian art dealer to the stars in $63m fight

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He is the art dealer to the stars, who has rubbed shoulders with celebrities such as Alicia Keys and Paris Hilton.

But now Andy Valmorbida is locked in a court battle involving a string of prototype Ferraris, artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a £17 million ($32 million) west London townhouse.

British art dealer Ivor Braka, Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon and Andy Valmorbida at a function in London in 2021.Credit: Getty Images

Luxembourg-based lender Regera Sarl is chasing Valmorbida for $US42.9 million ($63.4 million), claiming he defaulted on a loan and attempted to sell artwork over which it had security, without permission, according to court documents.

Valmorbida, in turn, has claimed in London’s High Court that Regera, and its associate company Fidera Ltd, a London-based investment manager, sought to take control of his assets at a knock-down price by blocking their sale and attempting to tip him into bankruptcy.

It is the latest twist in a legal saga for Valmorbida, the scion of an Australian business dynasty and a celebrity art dealer. In 2021, a judge in a Jersey court said he was “serially dishonest” and “evasive,” after being found to have created false documents to secure loans on artwork he did not own. Hassan Khan, a solicitor representing Valmorbida, said his client disputes the Jersey court’s filings, and that he did not act dishonestly. Valmorbida has never been subject to any criminal investigation or criminal charges arising from the matters concluded fully in those proceedings, Khan said.

Since first appearing in the New York art scene in the 1990s, Valmorbida has grown a reputation as one of the industry’s edgiest entrepreneurs, trading in artworks from George Condo to Francis Bacon. Born into one of Melbourne’s wealthiest families, he has been photographed with a string of A-list stars, and claimed to be the first person Giorgio Armani collaborated with in 20 years.

Making his name

The 45-year-old is best known for having secured the intellectual property of a selection of works by the late New York street artist Richard Hambleton. These have become embroiled in the legal battle.

The relationship between Regera and Valmorbida began in June 2021, when Regera made a loan of $US33.4 million to Valmorbida, allowing him to settle the Jersey case that was brought by a former business partner. As part of the deal, Regera took security over assets including a collection of artworks and luxury vehicles.

Valmorbida claims that the agreement meant he would sell properties in the English county of Hampshire and the Bahamas, along with his car collection and an artwork, Water Worshipper by Basquiat, to repay the lender.

Valmorbida is best known for having secured the intellectual property of a selection of works by the late New York street artist Richard Hambleton.Credit: Getty Images

But Regera has accused Valmorbida of defaulting on the loan. It said that of the 240 artworks given as security to Regera, including those by Hambleton, Valmorbida pledged 18 elsewhere — which were then sold. Regera also alleges that Valmorbida failed to notify Regera of a bankruptcy petition from Vardags, the law firm. Vardags didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In his legal filing, Valmorbida said these artworks had been erroneously included in the list by the professional art storage facility.

At the date of filing, Regera had been in the process of recovering $US9.5 million including from the sale of artworks and royalties, $US5 million from the sale of four Ferrari prototypes, and $US95,417 from a Hermes trunk.

In the filing, Valmorbida said he suffers from dyslexia and ADHD, and did not have the clauses and implications of the agreement with Regera explained to him by the lender or his solicitors. He has alleged that Regera breached its duties when selling his assets, by failing to take steps to obtain a proper price. He wants Regera and Fidera to provide him with an account of the legal costs and expenses.

“Mr Valmorbida has taken the litigation steps most reluctantly against a lender who he alleges has acted unreasonably and oppressively throughout,” Khan said.

A representative for Regera declined to comment.


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