Key dates in French-US art dynasty's bitter inheritance row

4th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

A family inheritance row involving dizzying sums of money set the stage for a blockbuster trial that opened in Paris on Monday, with several members of the billionaire Wildenstein art-dealing dynasty in the dock.

Here are key dates in the case:

- October 23, 2001: Patriarch Daniel Wildenstein, prominent art collector and thoroughbred racehorse breeder, dies aged 84. The following year, his two sons Alec and Guy declared their inheritance to be worth 40.9 million euros ($44 million).

- 2005: Daniel's widow and second wife Sylvia Roth, who had initially declined her share of the estate in exchange for an annual allowance, changed her mind to go after her two stepsons, accusing them of stashing huge portions of the estate in tax havens.

- February 17, 2008: Alec dies, aged 67. His two children, Diane and Alec Jr., as well as his widow Liouba Stoupakova, his second wife, get in line for the succession.

A decade earlier, Alec's messy divorce from his first wife, Swiss socialite Jocelyne Perisse, had already begun to lift the veil on the Wildensteins' business dealings.

- July 22, 2009: Paris prosecutors launch an investigation after Roth lodges a complaint of "breach of trust".

- February 16, 2011: Stoupakova joins in open warfare against the clan, also filing a breach of trust complaint.

- July 6, 2011: Guy Wildenstein, living in the United States, is charged with possession of stolen goods and breach of trust.

A search at the start of the year had led to the confiscation of several paintings of questionable provenance, including a canvas by Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot valued at 800,000 euros.

- July 2011: Tax authorities claim a first adjustment from the Wildenstein heirs. Estimating the estate to be worth more than 600 million euros, they say the state is owed more than 450 million euros. They also file a complaint over "tax fraud" by Wildenstein's heirs.

- December 20, 2012: The tax man moves again, this time over the inheritance of Alec Wildenstein.

- January 24, 2013: Guy Wildenstein is charged with tax fraud and concealment of tax fraud in a case that will draw in two lawyers, a notary and two banks, as well as his sister-in-law Stoupakova (Alec's widow) and his nephew Alec Jr.

- September 19, 2014: Guy is ordered to put down a guarantee of 20 million euros.

- November and December 2014: Tax authorities revise their adjustment demand to some 550 million euros ($600 million) on the estates of Daniel and Alec.

- January 4: Guy Wildenstein, 70, goes on trial in Paris. His sister-in-law Stoupakova faces charges of complicity in aggravated money-laundering and his nephew Alec Jr of tax fraud.

Also in the dock are the Royal Bank of Canada Trust Company (Bahamas) and the Northern Trust Fiduciary Services (Guernsey) for their alleged role in enabling the suspected tax fraud, along with three family advisers -- two notaries and a lawyer.

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© 2016 AFP

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