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A Paris court today has found the French-American art dealer Guy Wildenstein guilty of tax fraud and has sentenced him to four years in prison, two of which are suspended. He was also fined €1m.

Wildenstein is the president of Wildenstein & Co. gallery in New York and the patriarch of one of the industry’s most established art dealing dynasties. Today’s verdict ends a lengthy legal saga centred on Wildenstein hiding a vast art collection to avoid paying a hefty inheritance tax bill.

In the same ruling, the court also gave Wildenstein’s nephew, Alec Wildenstein Jr, a two-year suspended prison sentence and a €37,500 fine. Both Wildensteins had previously been acquitted in the same tax fraud case in 2017 and 2018.

The case concerns the estate of Daniel Wildenstein, Guy’s father, who died in 2001, and Alec Wildenstein Sr, Guy’s brother. The court of appeal found them guilty of concealing an enormous estate via trusts. In addition to various properties in Kenya and New York, the assets include paintings valued at €1bn, including those by Bonnard, Fragonard and Caravaggio.

Alec Sr’s widow, Liouba Stoupakova, was given a three-month suspended prison sentence for complicity in money laundering. In 2017 and 2018, the courts initially ruled that, prior to the 2011 anti-trust law, French legislation was not clear enough in terms of declarations. But in 2021, the French Supreme Court overturned this decision and ordered a third trial. At the third trial, which ran from 18 September to 4 October 2023, the public prosecutor’s office called for four years’ imprisonment, including two years’ imprisonment, for Guy Wildenstein, as well as a €250m fine.

Other people who worked for the Wildensteins were also convicted, including two asset managers, who were fined €187,500.

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