Somewhat gleefully, The New York Times announces next months trials in Paris of several members of the Wildenstein family—and their advisers— on tax evasion charges:
The trial is expected to raise uncomfortable questions about how the Wildensteins did business and explore the complex and opaque processes by which some in the international art market use foreign trusts, shell companies, Swiss tax havens, even anonymous loans to museums, to shelter assets.
“It is really the first time that a trial like this in France is exploring the use of trusts and determining whether they are legal or illegal,” said Claude Dumont-Beghi, a lawyer who represented Daniel Wildenstein’s widow, Sylvia, through eight years of battles with her stepsons, Guy and Alec Wildenstein, over her share of an inheritance. “How did the family build its fortune and empire under this system?” […]
Once a formidable presence in the art world, the Wildensteins’ influence in the market waned as tastes shifted from their specialty, old masters and Impressionists, to more contemporary art.
But among dealers, the Wildenstein gallery, which retains locations in New York and Tokyo and a research institute in the heart of Paris on the Rue la Boétie, still maintains a mystique because no one really knows what remains in their vaults.
“They are still a major actor in the market because they have inventory and they have wealth,” said Lionel Pissarro, an art adviser and dealer.
Wildenstein Trial to Lift a Veil on Opaque Art World Dealings (The New York Times)