On Monday, after Guy Wildenstein was put on trial in Paris for tax fraud and money laundering in France and possibly the United States, a court decided to delay the art dealer’s trial until May 4. The New York Times reported that Constitutional questions were raised by Wildenstein’s defense lawyers, causing the judge to reschedule the trial.
Last month, it was discovered that, in 2001, Wildenstein and his brother, Alec, had moved around about $250 million worth of their father’s art in order to avoid a tax bill on the family fortune. Their father, Daniel Wildenstein, had fallen into a coma and would ultimately die only days later. The brothers shipped their father’s art collection to tax havens in Switzerland in hopes that the family would be saved about $600 million in tax charges.
If found guilty, Wildenstein, who is the president of Wildenstein & Company, in New York, could face a maximum prison sentence of seven years and other fines. (Alec Wildenstein will not be facing any charges because he died in 2008.)
Once one of the most powerful art-dealing families, the Wildensteins have been involved in a number of shadowy matters that have threatened their empire. In 2011, French police raided the Wildenstein Institute under the pretense that Sylvia Roth Wildenstein, Guy and Alec’s late stepmother, had also committed tax fraud. Then, two years ago, a $90 million deal to sell Wildenstein & Company’s massive Upper East Side headquarters to the Qatari government fell through, forcing the family to start rethinking how it would run its business.