A rocky marriage is coming to a close in the most obvious way possible – with an ugly divorce playing out in at least two states.
It’s actually the second round through divorce court for Frederic Bouin and Gina DiSabatino, who married in June 2007 and were embroiled in a bitter divorce in Pennsylvania by 2009.
The couple appear to have reconciled for a few years, but Bouin ultimately filed again in 2014, this time in Florida. The case has stretched to include a lawsuit in Manhattan and allegations that a fugitive Russian real estate investor is helping him hide a fortune in famous paintings.
Bouin is a private art dealer in Manhattan with an apartment in Trump Towers, as well as a home overlooking the Seine River in Paris.
His private collection of art includes works by Damien Hirst, Picasso, Henri Matisse, and at least two works by Monet. He’s thought to be worth millions, and in the earlier divorce action, his wife had no qualms about demanding $100,000 a month in alimony.
Gina DiSabatino is a socialite living in Palm Beach, Florida, and her time with Bouin has been marred by allegations of violence and even criminal charges.
In 2008, DiSabatino secured a protection from abuse order in Pennsylvania after she reported that Bouin had assaulted her in their Chester County home.
He was initially charged with simple assault, terroristic threats, and attempted sexual assault, though the case ended in 2009 with his pleading no contest to two counts of harassment.
He was sentenced to three months probation and fined $100 for each count, but insisted that the case was an effort by DiSabatino to gain an advantage in the acrimonious divorce they were engaged in then.
For her part, DiSabatino said that the reduction in charges was designed to avoid a trial that would stress her parents, including her mother who was recovering from a heart attack.
While the criminal matter dragged through the courts, Bouin was also routinely violating the terms of the protection from abuse order by attempting to contact his wife.
The couple have a son, and in supervised visits with the boy, Bouin would slip notes or gifts into the child’s things to get back to DiSabatino.
Bouin also emailed her and posted messages to her on his Facebook wall, hoping to provoke her to contact him because, his lawyer told the court, he wanted to try counseling and see if they could save the marriage.
Four separate judges told him to knock it off, and eventually he was found in criminal contempt for violating the order.
This led to a four month probation sentence, but given that the first round through divorce court didn’t result in a divorce, one assumes that eventually DiSabatino was willing to give counseling a try.
It’s not clear when the couple relocated to Florida and earned legal residency there, but maybe after that rough patch they felt that a change of scenery would give them a chance for a fresh start.
In any case, by early 2013, the pair had purchased a $2.4 million home in Jupiter, Florida, and Bouin divided his time between there and his apartment in Trump Tower.
The good times didn’t last though, and in 2014, Bouin filed for divorce from DiSabatino again, this time in Florida.
It doesn’t seem to be going any better than their first try, with negotiations ongoing and now a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court against Janna Bullock, a Russian emigre and, probably, a fugitive from the law who DiSabatino accuses of hiding millions of dollars worth of precious art to prevent her getting a fair settlement.
DiSabatino’s legal team has tried three times to depose Bullock, who came to the United States in 2012 with her then-husband Alexei Kuznetsov, a former finance minister for the Moscow region.
They were fleeing allegations by Gazprombank that they had embezzled Russian taxpayer money to fund various real estate projects through Bullock’s RIGroup, which now operates in Manhattan, and pay for their lavish lifestyle.
Gazprombank ultimately sued the couple in the nation of Cyprus and won an order to freeze their assets, and US courts have attempted to make good on the foreign order.
Adding to bizarre elements on display in the matter, Bullock’s ex-husband Kuznetsov fled the US to France after his business partner was murdered.
France last year agreed to allow him to be extradited to Russia, where he can be prosecuted for the alleged theft of taxpayer money. He could face life in prison there if convicted.
According to DiSabatino, Bullock has helped Bouin hide away 57 paintings, including Monet’s “Antibes” and “Le Pont Routier d’Argenteuil” and Matisse’s “Femme au Chapeau.”
The total haul could be worth tens of millions, and if they aren’t accounted for in the Florida divorce case, she could permanently lose out on a huge amount of money.
These types of long, drawn out divorce actions can take an enormous toll on all the participants.
In divorce cases where a wealthy spouse appears to be hiding assets or money, it’s vital that you have tough, experienced attorneys on your side who will take the fight to your spouse and all their accomplices, even in other states.
Sometimes a fair settlement requires aggressive action, and the right divorce lawyers can make all the difference in getting the settlement you deserve, instead of losing out on years of income that should be yours.
Not every divorce will feature such a colorful cast of characters, and in a perfect world, no marriage will include domestic violence, but the more complicated your situation, the more important it is to have the most experienced, most reliable divorce attorneys at your side.
At Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino, we help you get the largest awards possible in your divorce.
When you’re considering ending your marriage in Queens, call our team today at 718-523-1111 and talk to a lawyer for free.