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Dealer Mary Boone Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Returns

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Mary Boone, the New York dealer who currently runs an eponymous gallery with two spaces in Manhattan, has pleaded guilty to filing false income tax returns.

“This is the worst day of my life,” Boone said in a statement emailed to ARTnews. “I have learned from my mistake and I am working very hard to put it behind me.”

Court papers and documents reveal that, in 2012, Boone reported that her business lost $52,000, when, in fact, the gallery had made a profit of $3.7 million. Authorities said that Boone had used $1.6 million for her personal expenses, among them remodeling her New York apartment; she then listed this under business deductions for her gallery.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said, “Mary Boone, a Manhattan art gallery owner, admitted to cheating the U.S. tax system by blatantly lying about her expenses and playing a shell game with bank accounts to hide her true assets. While tax evasion may seem like a victimless crime, it isn’t; all Americans must pay their taxes. And as Boone has learned, tax laws are not abstract.”

According to the filings, Boone engaged in similar tax-evasion practices in 2009 and 2010. The prosectors said that Boone caused the IRS to lose more than $3 million, not counting additional penalties and interest; Boone has agreed to pay those fines and fees.

Boone is scheduled to be sentenced in January. She has pleaded guilty to two counts, both of which carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

This is the second high-profile legal case within the past year that has involved Boone and her gallery. This past November, in a civil case involving a Ross Bleckner painting, Boone agreed to pay the actor Alec Baldwin a seven-figure settlement. In 2010, Baldwin had bought the 1996 Bleckner painting Sea and Mirror for $190,000, but when he received the work, he noticed that the hues of the canvas were different from when he had seen it, first as an image in a flyer, then later at a sale at Sotheby’s in 2007. Bleckner reportedly admitted the painting was a copy, causing Baldwin to file suit against Boone.

Boone first opened her New York gallery in 1977. Her SoHo space, which featured some of the first notable shows by such artists as Bleckner, Matt Mullican, David Salle, and Julian Schnabel, made her one of the most important dealers in New York during the 1980s. In 1996, her gallery moved to Midtown. She later opened a second gallery, in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, in 2000. Currently listed on the gallery’s roster are Ai Weiwei, Will Cotton, Ryan McNamara, Peter Saul, and Laurie Simmons, among others.

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