Guy Wildenstein, the heir to a major art estate, has been accused of massive tax fraud by French authorities.
The Wildenstein family has been one of the largest collectors and dealers of valuable art for a long time. The internationally known French clan has property all over the world, much of it acquired after they fled France for the U.S. to escape the Nazis during World War II.
The Guardian reports that the heir to the family fortune is in trouble with French authorities in "Heir to art-dealing estate in court in major French fraud trial."
The trouble began in 2001, when family patriarch Daniel Wildenstein passed away. While the exact details of what happened are complex and contested, it is known that one member of the family accused the others of cheating her out of an inheritance.
During the court case it was discovered that the family may have hidden vast sums of money in offshore accounts in tax havens to hide it from French authorities who would have applied an estate tax to it.
Guy Wildenstein, the current heir to the family faces a tax bill of over 500 million Euros and up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
While this is a French case, it should be a reminder for Americans as well. It is not a good idea for estates to transfer money overseas to hide it from tax authorities and the estate tax. If discovered, the penalties are severe both in France and in the U.S.
Reference: Guardian (Sept. 22, 2016) "Heir to art-dealing estate in court in major French fraud trial."