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CNN NEWSROOM

Parts Of Europe Begin Reopening To International Tourists; Visitors Flocking To U.S. Tourist Spots; Naftali Bennett To Announce Decision On Anti-Netanyahu Government; Texas Republicans Deal On Sweeping New Voting Legislation; More than 80 Candidates Killed In Run-up To Mexican Midterms; How To Have A Safe Holiday Weekend; Data Shows Links On Vaccine Inequity; Second Mount Nyiragongo Eruption Looms In DRC; Lawsuits Plague Sale Of World's Most Expensive Painting. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired May 30, 2021 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're getting towards the tail end and it almost felt like it was never going to happen.

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Crowds descend on beaches. That doesn't mean that the pandemic is over.

And President Biden blasts Texas' new voting restrictions.

And could Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's record setting run come to an end?

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta to all of you watching us here, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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BRUNHUBER: Americans have been itching to put the pandemic behind them. This Memorial Day weekend looks like they just might do it. Popular tourist destinations are reopening as restrictions are lifting. More than 60 percent more people are expected to travel this year than last year.

Half of all American adults have now had at least one shot and, as vaccinations have gone up, new infections and hospitalizations will go down.

While places like Miami Beach are thrilled to have tourists again, the crowds also bring their own challenges. We have more from Natasha Chen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people we're meeting here in Miami Beach say they're taking their very first trips in more than a year since before the pandemic began.

So there's a lot of that energy, with people who have been stuck inside their homes for so long, eager to come out and enjoy themselves under fewer COVID restrictions.

The mayor of Miami Beach told us the volume of people coming here is unprecedented. We saw those unprecedented crowds partying in the streets at night, creating traffic gridlock. A lot of people tell us they feel more relaxed and they're able to have fun, knowing case numbers are falling and more and more people are getting vaccinate.

But with the crowds comes a different problem; the mayor of Miami Beach talking about the need for law enforcement to keep a close eye on these crowds.

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MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: The one thing that we've seen over the last few months has been an increase in both volume and disorder. And what I mean by that is we're getting more people that have ever come here, even on weekday nights.

And if you get 25,000 or 50,000 people in a small, little area, which is what you're talking about, and just a small percentage feel like they're acting out, it's very hard to control that without the huge presence of policing.

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CHEN: Hundreds of Miami Beach police officers are all hands on deck this weekend, plus they've got help from other jurisdictions as well. There are businesses here very happy to see all these people come with the dollars flowing in after a difficult economic year.

Right now the hotel occupancy in this county is back to where it was in 2019 during this same week. And according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, they're saying that the dining activity, people dining out is actually more than a third higher than this point in 2019 -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Miami Beach, Florida.

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BRUNHUBER: On the other side of the country, Santa Monica is also heavily dependent on tourism. Now the famous pier is flush with visitors again.

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PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So I'm standing on the pier in Santa Monica, which was completely shut down at one point during the lockdown. This is a small tourism city, that relies so heavily on tourism. The tax base was obliterated during the lockdown. But now the mayor

here says they are coming back. They got through this all with the help of federal aid.

Now people are on the beach. She says this is actually important for the entire psyche and mental health of southern California, the tourists that visit. And people were genuinely thrilled to be walking again on the Santa Monica pier.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's important not to forget what has happened but the fact that we are able to gather again and celebrate, not be in fear anymore. Hopefully most people, aren't still to enjoy this beautiful water and the pier that is here, that's what it's for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I feel that it's a relief because everybody's been so tied up at home and being able to see people again like this is just -- I feel like it's kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel. Like we're finally like getting there like this has been such attack (ph) on like everybody like worldwide. And it just like I feel like we're finally like getting to the tail end of this thing. I was like it was never going to happen.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): These are the largest crowds we have seen in Santa Monica for quite some time. It seems like there should be more people in the water. Well, think about this. The temperature right now is only 61 degrees.

And right over here you see a rollercoaster, ready to get going on the Santa Monica pier. All of these rides pump more financial lifeblood into this tourism city. And don't forget in little more than 2 weeks, California will get rid of almost all of the COVID-19 restrictions -- reporting from Santa Monica, I'm Paul Vercammen. Back to you.

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BRUNHUBER: As much of America reopens, many sectors are facing an employee shortage. I spoke to a member of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association about it.

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LAURIE THOMAS, GOLDEN GATE RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION: About 15 percent to 20 percent of folks just decided to give up on our industry. Stay where they were. They left L.A. and San Francisco urban areas and considered it an opportunity to change careers, do self-searching and say, I don't want to come back to this industry.

And this caused a lot of stress. I felt it in April when we tried to start hiring again.

BRUNHUBER: That leads to the question, I want to read a quote from the founder of Shake Shack. He say that's everyone is hiring at the same time.

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THOMAS: Yes, my staff included, we saw 15 percent self select not to come back. San Francisco is an expensive place to live. We have some of the higher mandated rates and health expenses.

We also don't have the public school system back. And the public transportation system is not back. The last BART trains stop at 9:00 pm and that doesn't work for the restaurant industry.

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BRUNHUBER: While things are improving, there is still a long way to go. Look at this map here, the countries in red are still struggling. The U.K. says they have given at least one shot to half of the people in their 30s, including the Duchess of Cambridge.

But new cases crept above 4,000 for the first time in weeks. Scott McLean is in Europe for us.

So before we get to the bad news, let's get to the good news, the U.S. opening up again.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are all kinds of examples. Italy just started to relax some restrictions in place. Hungary just ditched their mask mandate. The Irish are restarting tourism, reopening hotels with indoor dining. They are all fighting to attract British tourists this summer.

So as much as you're keen to see parts of Europe, keen to see British people come back, not everyone is. France and Germany put up new barriers to travel from the U.K. They have lower rates but there is mandatory quarantines in place. Germany shut the door completely and it's because of this Indian variant here.

BRUNHUBER: The U.K. has lots of concerns.

It is the same kind of urgency in mainland Europe?

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MCLEAN: Not quite yet. The variant is in Europe, circulating in Europe right now and it doesn't seem to compare with what we're seeing in the U.K. with case counts exploding. The U.K. has seen about 9,000 cases; Germany about 400 and change. The numbers don't compare yet.

But we know this variant spreads very, very quickly, quicker than the U.K. variant. They estimate that three of every four new infections may be that new Indian variant. You said the U.K. hit 4,000 cases for the first time since April. Hospitalizations are also starting to tick up.

So the government is trying to keep the reopening plan on track. They are trying to put shots in arms as quickly as they can. And the U.K. here says that the government will have decisions to make three weeks from now, with the final phase of the reopening plan. The government is not going to make a decision as to whether or not to

go ahead with that final phase of reopening until the 11th hour. They want to see what happens with this variant whether they can get it under control.

BRUNHUBER: Scott McLean in London, thank you.

Benjamin Netanyahu's 12 year reign could soon be over.

Plus Texas is trying to join other states and set sweeping limits on voting.

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BRUNHUBER: Israeli media is full of speculation that Benjamin Netanyahu may be out of a job. We are joined now by Hadas Gold from Jerusalem.

This could be monumental, what's the latest?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He has been prime minister for 12 years, the longest serving prime minister. And if things shake out the way that the media is reporting them, he could be out of a job in a week.

It is a change led by Yair Lapid. And he would be prime minister first, followed by another so it would be a leadership agreement.

They won only seven seats in the March elections but they have become the kingmaker and whoever will be in power to form this next government. Things are still difficult here. We know that the conversations and negotiations are still ongoing. Things could still change.

But by the end of the day, Naftali Bennett is expected to announce they will announce a change the bloc and it will be a wide ranging coalition. They are all united in that they don't want Netanyahu to be prime minister any more but that may be where the uniting ends.

If all goes to the supposed plans, they could be sworn in as the new government in the new week.

BRUNHUBER: What effect will this have on the Palestinian peace process?

GOLD: We don't know what their new policies will be when they announce they could form a coalition or a government. They are expected to put out an announcement on what the issues are. But it could be pretty vague on how they want to govern. There will be a wide-ranging view within this government because, on

the Left, you have people that believe a two-state solution and want to do things that things on the Right are against. So it will be interesting.

The only thing they agree on is they don't want Netanyahu to be prime minister any more. We're in the middle of a cease-fire holding between Israel and Hamas. There is rising tensions in East Jerusalem. We have seen a clash in Jerusalem as well. So this is a unique new government with a wide ranging group of views that those sitting will have to tackle.

BRUNHUBER: It could be very short lived as well. Hadas Gold, thank you.

Texas Republicans are one step closer to sweeping new voting restrictions. They agreed on a bill that will make it harder to mail in ballots, ban after-hours votes and drive-through options. The final version of the bill needs to be voted on by midnight on Sunday. Dianne Gallagher has the details.

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DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lawmakers in the state of Texas are one step closer to adding new restrictions to the voting process here, following in the footsteps of more than a dozen other U.S. states, that have added new laws that make it a little bit harder for some people to vote.

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GALLAGHER: Now here in the state of Texas, this legislation, Senate Bill 7, still would require final approval by the house and senate before it could go to the desk of the governor. The legislation adds new restrictions and requirements as well as criminal and civil penalties to the voting process.

And it really would impact just about everybody, voters and election officials as well as volunteers and voting rights groups, especially those that focus on registering people to vote.

Again, the governor has indicated that he plans to sign this if it gets to his desk. U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday called the legislation un-American and wrong.

Now the last day of the legislative session in Texas is Monday, May 31st. The two chambers here have until Sunday night at midnight to get it approved -- Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Austin, Texas.

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BRUNHUBER: And the U.S. President is denouncing the bill, saying they put forth a bill that is joining Florida and Georgia in attacking the sacred right to vote. It is part of an assault on democracy that we have seen far too often this year, often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans. It's wrong and un-American. Democrats are looking for a plan B after Republicans scuttled the

outside commission on the Capitol riot. They are considering a select committee into the attack. It is early but Republicans are already calling the move partisan.

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SEN. TINA SMITH (D-MN): The irony of this is that Mitch McConnell and most Republicans vote down an independent commission and then they will criticize the fallout of that as being partisan.

I think it is so clear. Mitch McConnell said we can't have this commission because it will be counter to our interests in the 2022 elections.

Are McConnell and the Republican Party willing to put something other than just getting their own power first?

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BRUNHUBER: Mexico is suffering a wave of political killings, 80 candidates have been killed and hundreds of others targeted. We have more on the surge in political violence.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here is Abel Murrieta (ph), a candidate for local office in the Mexican municipality of Cajeme. Crime was his number one issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

RIVERS (voice-over): But just one day after filming this ad, he was dead, shot and killed May 13th in broad daylight on a busy street while handing out campaign flyers.

State authorities say he was deliberately targeted but don't know by whom. Suspects or not, though, it's just further proof that, in Mexico, politics can be deadly. From September of last year through May 25th, at least 88 politicians or candidates have been killed, according to a Mexican consulting firm.

They're a part of the more than 565 politicians or candidates overall that have been targeted by some sort of crime, ranging from murder to assault to threats, the firm says. The government says it believes both numbers are actually far lower, though they don't say how they tallied their numbers. But still, it admits there's a problem.

"It's a difficult time for these campaigns," says Mexico's president. "We're going to keep protecting them."

Though Mexico has consistently failed to protect its candidates, political assassinations have been a problem for decades. But this year is particularly bad. ANA MARIA SALAZAR, PUBLIC SECURITY EXPERT: I do think that this is

going to be considered one of the most violent elections in Mexican history.

RIVERS (voice-over): Security experts like Ana Maria Salazar say politicians are killed for a number of reasons but it most often involves organized crime. In many cases, criminal groups want their preferred candidate in office.

So they might target others they don't like, especially candidates who make crime a centerpiece of their campaign.

SALAZAR: Candidates that talk the way Abel Murrieta speak clearly are going to run bigger risks.

RIVERS (voice-over): Murrieta was known for challenging criminal groups and drug cartels.

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RIVERS (voice-over): As a private lawyer, he was also representing an outspoken family with dual U.S.-Mexico citizenship that lost nine of its members when they were murdered by suspected cartel members in Mexico in late 2019.

Adrian LeBaron tweeted shortly after Murrieta was killed, saying, in part, quote, "They have killed my defender.

"What do we call this?

"The rule of law?"

RIVERS: Do you believe he was killed because of his opposition to the cartels?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He was always exposing them. To me, he died a martyr.

RIVERS (voice-over): Authorities have not identified any suspects or motive in Murrieta's murder but the victims seem to know he was at risk, saying this a few days before he died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

RIVERS (voice-over): He went on to say, the streets belong to the people, not to criminals. And some of those people turned up here to his funeral. They gave him a standing ovation as his coffin was led out -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

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BRUNHUBER: Memorial Day in the U.S. is different this year. We'll look at what you can do if you're vaccinated and the precautions you should take if you're not.

Plus where you live and work can say a lot about which of those categories you fall into. Links between education, salary and the COVID shot. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching here. Many Americans are hitting the road this holiday weekend.

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BRUNHUBER: We have we look at how much has changed with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

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DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: In many ways, Memorial Day will feel very different than last year. If you were not vaccinated, many of the same cautionary measures you took last year you should take this year as well, wear a mask, keep your distance.

But let me show you have graph that I think is interesting. The numbers are roughly the same year to year, roughly the same numbers. But the inertia and the trajectory are very, very different. Last year the numbers were about to go up and, here, they're going to hopefully go down.

As you think about this weekend, remember, if you been vaccinated, you should feel very well protected in terms of being protected. What you should do is encourage people around you to be vaccinated.

If your kids are not vaccinated, the same measures apply. You are not likely to spread the virus to them, they're not likely to spread it to you. But they could potentially spread to each other. And that is why the masks and the distancing, all of the things that we talked about, still need to happen.

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BRUNHUBER: A new analysis shows U.S. counties with low vaccination rates tend to be poorer and less educated. This was based on federal data. Here are some takeaways. Counties with smaller vaccination rates have a roughly 20 percent lower household income.

County vaccination rates jump 3 percent for every $10,000 more in household income. They also have less access to computers and the internet.

Former acting CDC chief talked about how rates can vary.

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DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: What I'm interested in is what is going on in each community. I think that should guide what people do. I'm here in New Jersey and something like 67 percent of adults are vaccinated; 14 miles away in Trenton, it's down to 33 percent.

If you're looking across the state of New Jersey, we're doing incredibly well but it doesn't talk about the local circumstance, where you really need to say, OK, there are certain communities that you have to step up the efforts in a really big way to increase the vaccination coverage.

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BRUNHUBER: Dr. Sheila Young joins me from Los Angeles.

Thank you for speaking with us. You have been working through this pandemic and I want to put up some numbers. Those that received at least one dose of the vaccine, white, 62 percent; Latino, 47.5 percent, Black, 40.4 percent. That's a significant disparity and it reflects the vaccination rate for African Americans.

Why haven't these numbers changed much?

DR. SHEILA YOUNG, OVERSEES CHARLES R. DREW UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE AND SCIENCE COVID-19 TESTING SITE: I think we're still facing the issue of access. People having trouble making it to the vaccine sites. There are a lot of innovative strategies being tried to reach people where they are.

We are trying to be honest with what we know and what we don't know.

BRUNHUBER: I'm going to show folks a map. The darker the section, the more vaccinations in the populations. The more affluent areas along the coast, that are dark green, you get lighter inland toward the urban areas. And in the middle you see the pinkish areas that includes the community of Watts, where you have been doing a lot of work. Obviously, it is not strictly a racial problem.

[05:35:00]

BRUNHUBER: Vaccination coverage jumps 3 percent for every $10,000 more in median household income.

What role does the income disparity play for this?

YOUNG: Again, you have to think about the fact that folks are working two and three jobs.

So how are they going to get to a vaccination site if they're doing two or three shifts?

Again, some of our amazing physicians opened up COVID-19 vaccinations until 12:00 am on Monday through Friday and also on the weekends. And so we're trying to do things innovatively and forwardly and really getting on the streets to talk to people.

BRUNHUBER: I want to get to some of the solutions here. You talked about concern, vaccination rates are now falling. People are being offered incentives, from lottery to scholarships and so on.

Is that the kind of thing that will help in communities in which like you work?

YOUNG: I think it can help to a certain degree. I would also caution that it is probably not the best idea to bribe someone to do something for their help. Otherwise, it could be seen later on as, I really wanted that thing; I didn't really want this vaccine. We have to be ethical in what we're doing, right?

I think we have something coming down the pipelines to help people. It is the Novavax vaccine, over 96 percent efficacy rate and also a great rate against the variants. The Novavax vaccine is like the flu vaccines that we have had in the past. It's a protein-based vaccine. Doesn't have DNA and so it is not going to enter your cells.

I think that was one of the things that people had a lot of concerns about. With the new vaccine coming out, I think if we provide the proper education, then we will see more people get the vaccine.

BRUNHUBER: Let's hope so. Dr. Sheila Young, thank you for joining me and thank you for all of the work you do in the community. I appreciate it.

YOUNG: You as well. Take care.

BRUNHUBER: Hundreds have lost their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But the danger is far from over. We'll have details live from there, next. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: The threat of another volcanic eruption looms in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Already the city is unrecognizable. Hundreds of homes being washed away in the lava. Another eruption could be catastrophic.

CNN's Larry Madowo is live in Goma.

CNN captured incredible footage, tell us more about what you saw.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is exactly eight days since the volcano erupted. We captured what it looked like right now. This is just from hours ago and it shows plumes coming out of this mountain. It indicates that there is collapse in the crater. It shows the lava lake is empty.

But that does not mean that it is not safe and that people can think the worst is behind them. It shows, after the eruption, the lava leak has cleared out and there is no imminent danger for the city.

This mountain is so close to Goma and it is always looming over them and threatening disaster at any time. This is what an Italian vulcanologist says about what we're seeing in the reduction of seismic activity.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The peak has been reached and now we are going down and very quickly down. You know, sometimes it is another peak again. So let's be patient. This is the most important thing. We don't need to rush.

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MADOWO: There is concern about what is happening here. Some of the people that were ordered to evacuate across the border and they just want to come home.

BRUNHUBER: We'll keep following that important story. Thank you for bringing that to us.

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BRUNHUBER: More still to come including --

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BEN LEWIS, AUTHOR: Disingenuousness, corruption, where does it end?

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The shadowy and high stakes world of art dealing. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: In the biggest legal fight that the art world has ever witnessed, a Russian oligarch says he was ripped off. Nina dos Santos has the case shining the light on the murky world of art dealing.

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NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): Billion-dollar lawsuits, claims of subterfuge surrounding the most expensive painting. The Bouvier affair, as it's dubbed, is the fiercest feud witnessed in the art world, an industry that's developed a rocky reputation for its way of doing business.

LEWIS: Opacity, lack of transparency, greed, tax evasion, money laundering, dishonesty, dissembling, disingenuousness, corruption, where does it end? DOS SANTOS: This Russian oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, made his money in fertilizer in the so-called era of gangster capitalism. He claims he's been swindled on a $2 billion collection, including the "Salvator Mundi."

Others believe it's not entirely original. On the other side, his former Swiss dealer, Yves Bouvier, who admits to making money on hefty markups but says it was all above board and claims his life has been ruined.

YVES BOUVIER, ART DEALER (through translator): I was blacklisted by auction houses, banks wouldn't transact with me, I couldn't sell my art works. My business was destroyed. In the future when it is all over, I don't know what I'll do but I'll certainly see the world differently.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): A Rybolovlev representative declined to be interviewed. A spokesman told CNN these matters are being fought in the courts where we expect to prove what happened and that Bouvier's fanciful story is false.

For now what is notable is what Bouvier does not dispute. As an art adviser, he pretended to help his clients assemble an art collection at a cost of $2 billion, while secretly reaping half of that price for himself.

Yet Bouvier does dispute that he was ever an art adviser, a matter of the dispute at the heart of the litigation and allegations of breach of trust.

"I am an art dealer," he told CNN. "All my invoices explicitly described me as the seller."

The six-year drama has prompted lawsuits from Monaco to Manhattan and Switzerland to Singapore. In a letter submitted to prosecutors, Bouvier claims he has been followed and spied upon by private investigators.

Rybolovlev declined to comment on those allegations.

All of this lifts the veil, experts say, on the ugly side of a market for the most beautiful items in ways seldom seen.

LEWIS: Art's a very good way to hide your true wealth. It's difficult to evaluate it. It's easy to move it around.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The affair also highlights the vast sums stashed away in priceless works. Take the "Salvator Mundi," Rybolovlev bought it for more than $127 million from Bouvier. But the dealer paid much less than that himself.

BOUVIER (through translator): My company made $40 million. I turned it around and sold it in two days. That's a very good deal for my company. I'm not going to complain.

ANTOINE VITKINE, FILMMAKER (through translator): So at this level, art is very opaque, secret and anonymous, because people don't want others to know how big their fortune is. Just look at the case of the "Salvator Mundi;" when it was sold at Christie's in 2017, all buyers on the phone were bidding anonymously.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Countries around the world are cracking down on the sale of art in general, with the U.K. and the E.U. requiring more transparency. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate report in 2020 said art could be used to evade sanctions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the "Salvator Mundi" at $400 million.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The "Salvator Mundi" hasn't been seen since it was last sold in 2017, reportedly to Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for a record $450 million.

However, the legal wrangling between its former owners continues -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.

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BRUNHUBER: Some fans are waking up after a long night of partying.

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BRUNHUBER: They erupted in cheers on Saturday outside the Stamford Bridge Stadium. The victory was sealed just before halftime.

In the U.S. car racing fans will see what is being dubbed the largest sporting event. At the Indy 500, 135,000 fans are expected to be in the motor speedway, so just 40 percent of the capacity at the Brickyard as attendance is restricted.

Face masks are a must but they say they're comfortable with the large crowd, partially because of the high vaccination rate.

Finally, one couple says they were speechless when a diver found their engagement ring. It slipped off when they were taking pictures this week. After about 20 minutes in the frigid water, he returned to the surface with the ring. They would love to thank him by inviting him to the wedding in August if restrictions allow.

That is a great ending there.

"NEW DAY" is just ahead, it's "ROAD TO THE FUTURE."