Asset freeze on bid-defaulting Sheikh extended by London judge
Sheikh Al-Thani failed to pay for ancient Greek coins at auction
By Riah Pryor. Web only
Published online: 09 November 2012
A London High Court judge ruled today that $15m-worth of assets of the Qatari sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Thani must remain frozen as part of an ongoing dispute over unpaid bills to auction houses. Justice Haddon-Cave is now deciding how long the assets should be frozen.
The case against Sheikh Al-Thani was brought by the numismatic auctioneers Baldwin’s, Dmitry Markov and M&M Numismatics, who accuse the prominent art collector of owing them £25m (including interest) after defaulting on bids for items from the Prospero Collection, a prized cache of Greek coins. The coins remain with the auction houses but, on 9 October, the claimants applied for a world-wide, asset-freezing injunction to aid legal proceedings under way in Washington, D.C.
The sheikh’s lawyer, Stephen Rubin, argued that there is “no credible risk” that the sheikh’s assets would be moved out of reach. In his judgement, the judge said that Al-Thani’s “spiral of debt” appears to have left no less than 11 auction houses unpaid and that Al-Thani has “absolutely no defence to the claim. None has ever been suggested”. The courtroom heard that the sheikh’s total “unencumbered” assets are estimated to be approximately £44.2m. This does not include, however, any individual assets worth less than £1m, of which the court papers say it is “reasonable to suppose” there are many, and any assets in Qatar.
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