Sotheby’s helped an art collector avoid millions of dollars in New York sales taxes, the state attorney general said in a lawsuit filed Friday accusing the famous auction house of accepting documents. bogus to exempt a top customer from tax.
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The lawsuit involves the purchase of $ 27 million worth of works by artists such as painter Jean-Michel Basquiat and sculptor Anish Kapoor, and it depicts Sotheby̵7;s very keen desire to keep his business. top client that the staff allowed him to identify himself as an art dealer for tax purposes.
“Sotheby’s violated the law and eloped millions of New York taxpayers just to increase his own sales,” Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The lawsuit comes after the art collector’s company, a British Virgin Islands company called Porsal Equities Ltd., settled with the attorney general’s office in 2018. Porsal agreed to pay $ 10.75 million in taxes, damages and penalties on allegations that the company sold goods. taxed over $ 50 million on the purchase of art from a variety of New York units.
Sotheby’s said it “strongly dismissed” the allegations, calling them baseless and “unsupported by both reality and law.”
“This is a matter between taxpayers and the state,” the auction house said in a statement, noting that the collector and attorney general settled it in 2018.
The attorney general’s office has not disclosed the identity of the collector. The lawsuit describes him as a man who runs a successful shipping business, loves Latin American art, lives outside the US and has homes all over the world, including an apartment in the City. New York.
According to the lawsuit, in 2010, he visited Sotheby’s New York City headquarters and met a junior employee who wanted to nurture him as a client. After a collector asked why some works are not subject to sales tax, she provided him with what is called a “resale certificate” form and filled out a portion of it.
This brochure is intended to provide tax exemptions to art dealers who purchase items for inventory and resell to their businesses. Other buyers typically owe the state and New York City sales tax on artwork purchased and delivered within the city.
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The staff – and over time, more than 20 colleagues – know customers are buying artwork for their own enjoyment, according to the lawsuit. She had arranged to install works in his Manhattan apartment, and she and a few colleagues went there to see the $ 5.7 million Basquiat painting he bought through Sotheby’s in 2012.
The lawsuit said that the collector, sometimes through Porsal Equities, purchased the $ 27 million worth of artwork through Sotheby’s duty-free between 2010 and 2015, thanks to resale certificates.
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Among the purchases is a $ 1.4 million piece by Kapoor, whose work includes a stainless steel sculpture called The Bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park. According to the lawsuit, the sales tax on the collector’s 2010 purchase of Kapoor amounted to more than $ 126,000.
It looks for unspecified damages and penalties.