Before I get to this week’s point, let me direct one big message to my colleague, Wilson Lloyd Mann. After several, long, soul searching months of self-reflection, in the words of the great Elton John…The Bitch is Back!
Make no mistake, I have little sympathy for Mary Boone. She undoubtedly committed tax fraud and all the money shifting they said she did, but we’re living in strange times and in light of the person who occupies the top role in this country at the moment, I think 30 months in prison is ridiculous.
Further, we’re talking about art related fraud here, which is kind of a non-crime to me anyway. It’s not like she embezzled money from the funds for a new wing in a children’s hospital.
According to New York Times columnist by Colin Moynihan, Boone is one of the most prominent art world figures to face prison since 2002, when the former chairman of Sotheby’s, A. Alfred Taubman, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and fined $7.5 million for leading a price-fixing scheme with Christie’s that swindled customers out of more than $100 million.
Even Judge Hellerstein said he was confident that Boone had learned her lesson and would not commit tax fraud again. But then went on to say that to let her go without a prison sentence could embolden others to commit similar crimes.
Excuse me, but what happened to the idea of allowing people to pay back their tax bill through doing the work of their trade? If you declare bankruptcy, you’re allowed to keep “the tools of your trade,” so you can rise again. What will the IRS gain by sentencing Mary Boone to 30 months in jail and ruining her so that she will never regain her career status as an art dealer? Wouldn’t it be smarter economically, to allow her to continue working and attending her AA and CA meetings while being monitored closely and/or have her finances monitored by IRS accountants? Really? Thirty months in prison seems like the most ineffective solution possible. Why do we have to punish people to prove a point?
And BTW, did you notice the disparity in the numbers quoted from the Times article, above? If not, let me highlight this for you.
In 2002, A. Alfred Taubman, former chairman of Sotheby’s, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and fined $7.5 million for leading a price-fixing scheme with Christie’s that swindled customers out of more than $100 million.
Hmmm, that’s interesting. Alfie swindles $100 mil and gets one year in the big house (which was probably some white collar, country club prison anyway), but Mary misappropriates $3 mil and gets almost 3 years in jail. Oh, yeah, that seems fair – if you’re a man. That’s the big difference here isn’t it?
Which leads me to another person who has committed innumerable instances of tax fraud and has to this date, never been charged with anything. In fact, quite the opposite, he was elected to be our 45th president.
Donald Trump, as everyone who has had the misfortune to be alive during his presidential campaign can attest to, has spun an elaborate narrative that states he’s a self-made billionaire, and his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.
But according to the New York Times investigative report, published on October 2, 2018, by David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner,
…in every era of Mr. Trump’s life, his finances were deeply intertwined with, and dependent on, his father’s wealth.
By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after Mr. Trump graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father. The money increased with the years, to more than $5 million annually in his 40s and 50s.
Much of his money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.
These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55% tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.
The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5%, tax records show.
The Times’s findings raise new questions about Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. According to tax experts, it is unlikely that Mr. Trump would be vulnerable to criminal prosecution for helping his parents evade taxes, because the acts happened too long ago and are past the statute of limitations. There is no time limit, however, on civil fines for tax fraud.
To read the entire article go to:
In the end it didn’t matter for poor Mary Boone, whose biggest mistake it seems, was that she committed tax fraud while being female.
“I stand before you saddened, humbled, and heartbroken,” Boone said. “I beg your honor to let me go back to work…and I beg your honor to give me a second chance.”
“The gallery simply will not survive without her,” Boone’s attorney, Robert S. Fink said.
Judge Hellerstein said, “You can’t have people, after they’re caught, avoiding punishment by doing good works,” he said. “When a person takes advantage of the things he or she can do to avoid paying taxes in a fraudulent way, there must be consequences.”
Oh really? Then how is Donald Trump still sitting as the 45th president of the United States of America?
This one’s for you WLM…