$10.3m 'missing' art hunt continues

Robin Symes, one of Britain's most successful art dealers, is being investigated over a missing collection of multimillion pound art deco masterpieces by one of Europe's most influential designers.

Symes and his late partner, Christo Michailidis, were once considered the 'glamour couple of the global antiques trade,' over 30 years of success.

But, since the death of Michailidis a decade ago, Symes and his late partner's Greek family have been embroiled over a bitter legal battle over the ownership of the men's collection, reports the Guardian.

Michailidis' family claim that a rare collection of Eileen Gray furniture which has been missing once belonged to them - an allege that Symes secretly sold the collection, "spiriting away the money," before a court order was granted to freeze his assets.

Details of Symes' bank accounts acquired by Bird & Bird, the Michailidis' appointed law firm, allegedly show that he received $10.3m for the missing artworks - and the family claim that he tried to disguise the funds in a pan-European money laundering scam.

The collection, once valued at £18m and bought by the Michailidis family, was regarded as one of the world's most impressive Gray collections. Gray is credited with inspiring both Modernism and art deco.

Before the documents were uncovered by Bird & Bird, Symes reportedly tried to claim in an elaborate story that the $10.3m in funds had been given to him by a mysterious woman in the Middle East in an act of generosity, reports the Guardian.

When Symes eventually volunteered the woman's name, is was later found to translate into "total rubbish" in English.

Bird & Bird are now reportedly launching legal action against the French bank, which is alleged to have laundered Symes' $10.3m funds through a "front" company called Lombardi, whose sole beneficiary was Symes.

The Michailidis family has reportedly hired dozens of detectives to track Symes movements around the world. The current location of the Eileen Gray furniture is unknown - but it is believed to have perhaps been sold to a Sheikh in the Middle East.

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