April 3, 2009 / 5:52 PM / 10 years ago

JPMorgan sues Dutch investor Reijtenbagh over loan

NEW YORK, April 3 (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) has sued Dutch businessman Louis Reijtenbagh, saying he failed to pay back more than $23 million in loans and that he unlawfully moved valuable artwork by Rembrandt, Picasso and other artists out of the United States that had been put up as collateral.

The case is the second lawsuit in two weeks against the 62-year-old Reijtenbagh, a one-time medical doctor who is now considered one of the wealthiest people in the Netherlands after making a fortune through investing.

Reijtenbagh and his two sons were sued last week by Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.VX, which has gotten a temporary court order freezing his assets. [ID:nnN31305455] Several investment funds run by the Swiss bank accuse them of misusing more than $340 million in loans that were to have been used to finance the family’s private equity investments.

The Credit Suisse and JPMorgan cases were both filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

The JPMorgan lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, seeks the repayment of loans that were backed by millions of dollars worth of artwork held by Monte-Carlo Art SA, a British Virgin Islands-based entity that JPMorgan says is controlled by Reijtenbagh.

Jay Fialkoff, a lawyer representing Reijtenbagh and his sons in the Credit Suisse case, told Reuters on Friday that he was “not sure” if he was going to represent the investor in the JPMorgan lawsuit and declined to comment on it.

A hearing in the JPMorgan case has been set for April 15, according to court documents.

The Reijtenbaghs have been described in court papers as a wealthy Dutch family with offices and residences in Brussels, Monaco, Luxembourg and New York.

JPMorgan said in its lawsuit that Reijtenbagh and his companies “have experienced a material adverse change in his business and his financial condition.”

The bank said Reijtenbagh failed to pay back a substantial part of a $50 million loan extended in July 2006. It said he owes an outstanding principal balance of about $23.5 million plus accrued interest of nearly $9,900 as of March 30.

Reijtenbagh is one of the 50 richest people in the Netherlands, according to the weekly publication Quote, which estimated his assets last year at about 590 million euros ($793 million).

The son of a Dutch farmer, he worked as a family doctor and made his first fortune in the 1980s in stocks, according to Dutch daily De Telegraaf.

JPMorgan sued Reijtenbagh for breach of contract and other claims. It contends the artwork backing the loan was supposed to be safeguarded at an apartment in the Trump Tower Condominium on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue that is owned by Reijtenbagh’s sons, Jacob and Edgar.

However, JPMorgan contends, the defendants moved the “art collateral ... outside of the apartment and the United States” without the bank’s consent.

A list of the art includes works by Rembrandt, Picasso, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre Bonnard, Rene Magritte and others.

A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment on the case, saying the bank does not discuss pending litigation.

JPMorgan said in its court papers that Reijtenbagh resides in Monaco. Credit Suisse’s lawsuit said his actual residence “is currently the subject of an investigation by the Belgian tax authorities.”

Fialkoff declined to comment on Reijtenbagh’s whereabouts or main place of residence.

The case is JPMorgan Chase Bank NA vs Louis Reijtenbagh 601001/2009, New York State Supreme Court, Manhattan (Additional reporting by Harro ten Wolde in Amsterdam; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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