France Says Guy Wildenstein Owes $330 Million in Back Taxes

  • A Degas Drawing that was reported missing or stolen and recovered by police in the Wildenstein Institute vault.

    A Degas Drawing that was reported missing or stolen and recovered by police in the Wildenstein Institute vault.

    French National Police

The French government is demanding that prominent art dealer Guy Wildenstein pay €250 million ($330 million) in back taxes. The head of the powerful art dealing family is said to have grossly undervalued his father's estate. Overall, the heirs of Daniel Wildenstein (d. 2001) owe €600 million ($789 million), according to the French internal revenue service. The clan plans to appeal.

Tax is overdue on offshore trusts that the Wildensteins had hidden away in Jersey, the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands, reported the French news magazine Le Point. Daniel Wildenstein's estate has been estimated at €4 billion ($5.3 billion), and the family's assets include a trove of 19th century paintings and properties worldwide---from Africa to the Caribbean.

First, it was Guy Wildenstein's late stepmother, Sylvia Roth, who sued him in 2009 for fraud in cheating her out of her fair portion of the estate, along with evading French taxes. Her lawyer is still pursuing the case.

Next, thirty "missing or stolen artworks" were found in a Wildenstein Institute vault last summer. Wildenstein was accsued of possession of stolen goods and breach of trust. He has also been accused of breach of trust by his late brother's widow, among other lawsuits.

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