The Wildenstein family, famous for its art collection and expertise as dealers, fled France for the U.S. during World War II but is now in trouble with the French government, according to the Guardian in "Heir to art-dealing estate in court in major French fraud trial."
The trouble began in 2001, when family patriarch Daniel Wildenstein passed away. While the exact details of what happened are complex and contested, it is known that one member of the family accused the others of cheating her out of an inheritance.
During the court case it was discovered that the family may have hidden vast sums of money in offshore accounts in tax havens to hide it from French authorities who would have applied an estate tax to it.
Guy Wildenstein, the current heir to the family faces a tax bill of over 500 million Euros and up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
While this is a French case, it should be a reminder for Americans as well. It is not a good idea for estates to transfer money overseas to hide it from tax authorities and the estate tax. If discovered, the penalties are severe both in France and in the U.S.
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