The veteran Manhattan art dealer Mary Boone has pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, the US Attorney’s Office says.
On her 2012 federal income tax returns, Boone falsely claimed approximately $1.6 million in personal expenses as tax deductible business expenses, prosecutors say. Specifically, they claim that she fraudulently reported a business loss of $53,000 in 2011 when, in reality, the gallery “made a profit of approximately $3.7 million.”
Prosecutors accuse Boone of using the gallery to cover up the fraud. She issued, for example, about $800,000 in business checks to pay for the remodeling of her New York City apartment. Another $120,000 in business checks went toward paying for rent and other expenses on a second apartment where she stayed while the remodeling was underway. She also falsely characterized personal expenses, such as a $500,000 payment to a contractor, as a “commission.”
In addition to pleading guilty, Boone has agreed to pay restitution to the IRS of just over $3 million, which the US Attorney’s office said represents the additional taxes due for returns filed in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The two counts of filing a false federal income tax return each carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced in January.
“This is perhaps the saddest day of my life. I’m working hard on putting it behind me,” Boone told artnet News through her attorney.
Boone, who is 66, operates two galleries in New York. She has been instrumental in launching the careers a number of artists, including the 1980s stars Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, David Salle, and Julian Schnabel.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been targeting galleries and private dealers in New York in recent years, as artnet News reported in early 2015, though it’s unclear whether this led to the charges against Boone specifically.
Last year Boone was embroiled in another high-profile legal dispute with actor Alec Baldwin, who alleged that she pulled a “bait and switch” when she sold him a later copy of a work by Bleckner while claiming it was the original. Boone eventually paid Baldwin a seven-figure settlement.
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