Tax Evasion Case Against Billionaire Art Dealer Guy Wildenstein Exposes Dirty Money Trail

More charges to be filed in the case against the billionaire art dealer.

Guy Wildenstein.

The tax man is coming for Guy Wildenstein, and may file charges against a wealth management company in the Bahamas in connection to the case against the billionaire art dealer. As reported by the Globe and Mail, the French agency that investigates tax evasion has recommended that a judge charge RBC Trust Company with assisting Wildenstein in tax fraud and money laundering.

The Wildenstein art dynasty was founded in 1875 by Nathan Wildenstein. Guy Wildenstein (Nathan’s great-grandson), now age 70, took over the family business in 2001, after the death of his father. He is now accused of dodging hundreds of millions of dollars in French inheritance tax through the use of offshore accounts (see Art Dealer Guy Wildenstein Caught Up In €600 Million Tax Evasion Case).

This past October, Wildenstein was released on €20 million bail ($21.5 million), essentially a security deposit to be put toward the dealer’s back taxes if he is found guilty (see Art Dealer Guy Wildenstein’s Bail Set at €20 Million).

Claire Holland, a spokesperson for RBC, sent out an e-mail Monday stating that those at RBC “strongly contest” the recommendation on the basis that the company “has a duty of confidentiality and cannot comment on clients even to confirm or deny they are clients.”

The company also mentioned the recommendation in its quarterly report last month, assuring shareholders that “RBC Bahamas believes that its actions did not violate French law. If charges are brought, it intends to contest them in the French court.”

The Guernsey Islands’ Northern Trust, another offshore tax haven, has also been named in the proceedings.

The tax business is hardly the only battle Wildenstein is fighting. In 2011, 30 paintings that Jewish families had reported as missing were discovered at the Wildenstein Institute in Paris, including an Edgar Degas and an Édouard Manet (see Wildenstein Dynasty Under Fire in Paris). Wildenstein has denied the allegations.

Last year’s sale of the Wildenstein gallery’s New York townhouse to the government of Qatar is also a source of a legal dispute, as the Middle Eastern country has since rescinded its offer to buy the building.

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