• gerard van weyenbergh

The Wildenstein saga, part 4

The Wildensteins had in their hands looted artworks after 1945, unbeknownst to them of their own free will. We will say then that they had made enemies among those whose works submitted for authentication to the various committees created by them had been rejected, especially when Daniel strove to redo the catalog raisonné of Modigliani and to want to deal with works by Renoir or other renowned artists.

According to "Paris-Match," in the 1960s, Georges Wildenstein made an enemy from André Malraux after accusing the Minister of Culture of having transformed the bas-reliefs of Angkor stolen during his youth to be able to resell them. In 1963, Malraux took revenge for this wicked insinuation by refusing to endorse Georges' election to the Academy of Fine Arts, which Daniel said was the cause of his father's death. From then on, Daniel decided to run his business from New York except that he was more often seen in Paris than there.

The Wildensteins knew how to put their money and their collections in the shelter of trusts established in tax havens. (Paradoxically, during the lawsuits brought by Sylvia Roth against her sons-in-law, a court issued a judgment recognizing that tax-sheltered investments abroad were a family tradition). This move had allowed Daniel to deal with any disturbing eventuality concerning the protection of his fortune estimated at least at 5 billion dollars and not 43 million euros, as stated in his estate.

Women were the weakest links of the Wildensteins, first Sylvia, Daniel's second wife who recklessly forgot to be generous enough to her in her will, then Jocelyn, Alec's first wife who spent a fortune to maintain his ranch in Kenya and to make incessant trips between Nairobi, Paris and New York then Lioubia Stoupakova, the second wife of the latter who once widowed, came to loudly claim her share of the inheritance by filing a complaint against X for breach of trust.

After various trials, the combative lawyer of Sylvia Roth managed to draw up a list of a multitude of trusts established in tax havens in the name of the Wildenstein family, which until the fall of 2010 had not seemed to worry Guy Wildenstein, however.

The situation seems to have changed suddenly since the searches carried out at his lawyer and the headquarters of the Wildenstein Institute on rue de la Boétie. In addition, the complaint of Liouba Wildenstein, left after the death of Alec without money with tax debts of several million euros, did not help matters for Guy Wildenstein. Tired of being taken for a fool when her husband was in no need, she decided to rely on justice to assert her rights by pointing out that Alec had made a donation to her by which, in the event of death, she would be entitled to a quarter of her estate as of right.

Of the 43 million euros from the estate of Daniel Wildenstein, the 37-year-old Russian model would only be entitled to crumbs, if not nothing, but if these famous trusts established in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas were reinstated in this succession, the share that would go to her would therefore be very substantial.

For now, the Delta Trust containing paintings and works of art that Sylvia Roth had mentioned in her summons against her step-sons would belong to the Wildensteins, which could prompt an examining magistrate to dissect the assembly and initiate a tax investigation.

Taking advantage of the breach opened by Sylvia Roth who did not benefit her during her lifetime, Liouba Wildenstein now hopes to win her case against her brother-in-law Guy. It promises new thrilling legal episodes as part of this incredible soap opera on the Wildensteins entered its sixteenth year of existence since the publication of the "Missing Museum" by Hector Feliciano.

To be continued soon

www.artcult.com written by Adrian Darmon .