Paris Court Confirms Acquittal in Wildenstein Art Dynasty Tax Fraud Case


Our Paris team achieved a major victory last month in France’s highest profile tax prosecution, when the Paris Court of Appeal affirmed the January 2017 dismissal of an alleged €500 million tax fraud case.

Since 2011, Orrick has been assisting Diane and Alec Wildenstein Jr., heirs of the internationally renowned art collector family, with numerous civil, tax and criminal French proceedings in which they are involved alongside their uncle Guy Wildenstein and other defendants, following the deaths of their grandfather, Daniel, in 2001 and their father, Alec Sr., in 2008.

Despite the media’s prediction of a historic criminal conviction in the case, the Paris Criminal Court decided in January 2017 to embrace our team’s arguments and dismiss all charges against Alec Jr. and the other defendants.

The prosecution and the tax administration challenged this decision before the Paris Court of Appeal, reiterating their position and accusing our client of tax evasion. We fought hard during a three-week hearing, trying to convince the court that the tax evasion fraud was not constituted. On June 29 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled in favor of our client and the other defendants.

This achievement is the result of seven years of teamwork by our Paris litigators, led by Jean-Pierre Martel and Diane Lamarche, with Delphine Camboulives and Félix Thillaye. This victory must now be confirmed by the Supreme Court, as the prosecution and tax administration have filed a final recourse.

Moreover, numerous fights remain on the civil side: (i) against the tax administration, where Anne-Sophie Kerfant, Margaux Azoulay and Rudy Marouani are fighting to obtain the discharge of the tax reassessment contemplated by the tax administration (more than €500 million); and (ii) against the second wife of our clients’ father, where our team is working to protect the assets in the estate to which the family is entitled.