April 22, 2009 / 5:03 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-ABN AMRO joins race for Reijtenbagh art-source

* Dutch bank sues investor to secure art collateral

* Hearing set for Friday in Amsterdam court (Adds more comment; details on JPMorgan lawsuit, additional byline)

By Harro ten Wolde and Martha Graybow

AMSTERDAM/NEW YORK, April 22 (Reuters) - ABN AMRO has sued wealthy Dutch investor Louis Reijtenbagh to secure his art collection, which was put up as collateral for a loan from the bank, a source told Reuters on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Amsterdam district court confirmed a hearing was scheduled for Friday involving Reijtenbagh but declined to give further details.

The source, who is familiar with the Dutch bank’s lawsuit but spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was triggered by another court case in New York lodged by JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), which has said Reijtenbagh failed to pay back more than $23 million in loans.

JPMorgan contends that Reijtenbagh unlawfully moved a portion of the art collection, which includes work by Rembrandt and Picasso, out of the United States. [ID:nN03451071].

Last week, the Netherlands’ largest museum said it risked losing a 17th-century Dutch masterpiece, Gerrit Adriaensz Berckheyde’s “Golden Bend” to JPMorgan, which it had bought from Reijtenbagh last year. [ID:nLH636196] The painting was on a list of art collateral used to back the JPMorgan loan.

Edmund O‘Toole, a New York attorney representing Reijtenbagh and his two sons in the JPMorgan lawsuit, told Reuters last week that his clients dispute the allegations in that case and “intend to vigorously defend their interests, and they look forward to setting the record straight.”

O‘Toole and Edward Boyle, both attorneys at law firm Venable LLP, said on Wednesday that they were not representing the Reijtenbaghs in any ABN AMRO-related proceedings in Amsterdam and that they could not comment on that case.

Reijtenbagh has not responded to email requests for comment on the lawsuits.

    In the ABN AMRO case, 62-year-old Reijtenbagh has not failed to pay his debt, but the bank is seeking to secure the artwork that was also used as collateral for its loan, the source said. “ABN AMRO just wants to secure the assets,” this person said.

    ABN AMRO, which is owned by the Dutch state, declined to comment. Its court filings were not made public, and it is not yet known how much Reijtenbagh is indebted to the bank.

    Reijtenbagh, a former doctor, made a fortune through investing and has been described as one of the wealthiest people in the Netherlands.

    He and his two sons were also sued in New York last month by Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.VX, which has gotten a temporary court order freezing his assets. [ID:nN31305455]

    Several investment funds run by the Swiss bank accuse the Reijtenbaghs of misusing more than $340 million in loans that were to have been used to finance the family’s private equity investments.

    Earlier this week, a New York state judge signed an order moving the JPMorgan lawsuit against Reijtenbagh to a federal court in New York, which will now hear the case. Reijtenbagh is due to submit court papers responding to that lawsuit by Friday. (Editing by Toni Reinhold and Gerald E. McCormick)

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