Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Uh oh

It seems like a former owner of Le Reve is getting in a lot of trouble.

"He was a serially rich hedge fund manager, a New York socialite married to the granddaughter of ex-US president Dwight D. Eisenhower; the owner of four dozen works of art by Degas, Renoir and Cézanne, he paid $244m (£120m) in 1998 for Van Gogh's "Dr Gachet" and Picasso's "Le Rêve".

This week he is sitting with eight others in the dock in Vienna accused of breach of trust and fraud in one of Austria's biggest corporate scandals.

Wolfgang Flöttl, who has sold his art collection to cover his subsequent losses, is the son of the ex-head of Bawag, a former union-owned bank set up in 1922 for waiters and carpenters that lost €1.4bn (£940m) in currency speculation deals in the Caribbean. It was baled out from near-bankruptcy by the former government a year ago with a €900m underwriting loan. Now Austria's fifth largest bank, it was bought for €3.2bn late last year by US fund Cerberus. "

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