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Princess fined £2million in dispute over missing paintings

Princess fined £2million in dispute over missing paintings

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Princess fined £2million in dispute over missing paintings


A socialite Italian Princess has been fined £2million by Jersey's Royal Court after it ruled she had failed to properly disclose the location of a $66m Gaugin painting, among other valuable assets.

Camilla Crociani - whose title became Princess de Bourbon de Deux Siciles following her marriage to Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro – was found in contempt of Court in October 2019 after she failed to comply with a Disclosure Order in December 2018. The £2m fine was handed down, because the Court decided she hadn't taken the opportunity to fully 'purge' that contempt. The Princess intends to appeal.

The case has played out in Jersey’s Royal Court over a number of years, and resulted in a landmark judgment in 2017, ordering that a $200million trust – including assets such as properties and paintings by famous artists – be reconstituted so that Camilla's sister, Cristiana, could once again benefit from it.

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Pictured: Princess Camilla was found in contempt of court last year.

After this, Princess Camilla has been involved in other Royal Court judgments – including a failed bid to oust the presiding judge, Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, who was accused of “bias”.

Last year,  the Commissioner concluded the socialite had been acting in contempt of court, after she failed to comply with a Disclosure Order issued in December 2018 to get the Princess to disclose information about the Crociani family’s art collection, which is worth millions.

The Royal Court said that the Princess had only cooperated by giving the location of those that had already been tracked down despite being “closely involved with the artworks from the 6th July 2015”.

She was however given the opportunity to purge her contempt earlier this year and issued a 22-page statement, her seventh in the proceedings, in July.

According to Advocate William Redgrave, representing BNP Paribas Jersey Trust Corporation Limited, the Princess had failed to purge her contempt, describing her statement as “brief and uninformative” as it repeated what had been said before. He went on to describe Princess Camilla’s evidence as unsatisfactory, noting she hadn’t answered questions directly, “attacked” BNP and deflected questions by stating others could answer. 

Advocate Olaf Blakeley, who represented the Princess, argued BNP knew all the information contained in the affidavit was irrelevant. He added that the Princess believed she had fully complied with the 2018 Disclosure Order, having given all documents and information she had in her possession.

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Pictured: Advocate Olaf Blakeley represented the Princess.

The Court eventually concluded the Princess hadn’t given the information required.

They noted the position hadn’t changed since the Contempt Judgment and that providing “a mass of disorganised documents without explanation as to its import and relevant”, the majority of it in a foreign language, couldn’t purge a contempt.

“We have no doubt that Camilla knows or at least has a belief where the eleven artworks not so far accounted for are located and in particular, the Hina Maruru by Gauguin,” they added. “Camilla has shed no light on this valuable painting’s mysterious disappearance from the insurance listing…”

Turning to the sanction to be imposed, the Commissioner noted a prison sentence would have been justified due to the “seriousness of the contempt”. He however added that BNP had made it clear they didn’t want that to happen as their main concern was to obtain information about Madame Crociani’s assets.

He added that Princess Camilla had been warned in February 2020 that she would be handed “a fine of millions” if her contempt persisted. 

The Court rejected the view she wouldn’t be in position to pay such a fine as she was living off her husband having lost “every penny” in the fight, had lawyers' bills to pay and no revenue from her companies.

“In our view, Camilla is a person of substantial wealth who is openly defying the orders of this Court,” the judgment noted.

The Court eventually concluded the Princess should be fined £2million and receive a “punitive costs order” for BNP’s legal costs involved in the proceedings since February.

They allowed two months for the fine to be paid. If the Princess does not pay she could face a year in prison. 

Princess Camilla has already indicated she will appeal the judgment.

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