Wildenstein Family Faces French Tax Trial After Delay Bid Tossed

  • Judge rejects bid to delay until parallel case is complete
  • Wildensteins face tax trial in Paris’ criminal court

Guy Wildenstein arrives for his trial in Paris, on Sept. 22, 2016.

Photographer: Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty Images

Members of the wealthy Wildenstein art-dealing family finally went on trial over fiscal fraud allegations after a French judge rejected a second bid to delay the case to allow French tax authorities to finish a related investigation.

The suspension sought by Guy Wildenstein and his nephew, Alec Junior Wildenstein, could delay the trial by “several years,” Judge Olivier Geron said in Paris Monday. That would run foul of the need for verdicts to be handed down in a reasonable time frame, he said.

The Wildensteins are on trial over allegations that Guy and his brother Alec, the father of Alec Junior, underestimated inheritance taxes after their own father died in 2001. Prosecutors accuse the brothers of hiding assets worth hundreds of millions of euros in offshore trusts.

France’s constitutional council in June overturned an earlier delay won by the Wildensteins, tossing out arguments that the prosecution should have been halted by double-jeopardy laws.

The Wildenstein family entered the art world in the 1870s in Paris when Nathan Wildenstein, Guy’s great-grandfather, helped a client sell some paintings while he was working as a tailor. Nathan opened his own gallery the same decade. His firm, Wildenstein & Co., has been family-run since then.

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