A French judge cleared art dealer Guy Wildenstein and seven other defendants of trying to conceal hundreds of millions of euros in assets, including paintings and international properties from French tax authorities.
Even while the judge conceded that a "clear attempt" was made to hide assets, Wildenstein was acquitted due to faults in both the investigation and French tax fraud legislation. His nephew Alec Jr. and other associates were also acquitted.
The prosecutor charged that the case represented “one of the longest and most sophisticated frauds of the Fifth Republic.” He had sought four years in prison, and a fine of 250 million euros ($265 million), for Wildenstein.
The trial exposed the existence of Wildenstein's offshore trust of 2,500 paintings valued at $1.1 billion.
Wildenstein still faces a civil lawsuit in France over an alleged 500 million euros in taxes due, along with a probe into paintings seized by police from his Wildenstein Institute.