New York – A prominent art collector and real estate developer has agreed to pay $7 million to settle allegations he failed to pay taxes on about $80 million worth of art, the state attorney general said Tuesday.
The settlement with Aby Rosen followed an investigation that revealed he owed taxes on over 200 works of art, said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Rosen’s whose companies own several New York landmarks, including the Seagram Building that houses the soon-to-be-shuttered Four Seasons restaurant.
Schneiderman contends that from 2002 to 2015, Rosen used a company that he formed, 22nd Century Acquisitions, to purchase the art and a second company, Lever House Artwork, to commission new works. Rosen, the attorney general said, did not pay sales tax on the items because he claimed an exemption, saying the works were going to be resold. But Schneiderman alleges that Rosen kept the art for himself and displayed the works at his homes in New York and at restaurants and hotels that were affiliated with his companies.
The works included a $9.1 million canvas by Jean-Michael Basquiat, a 1962 work by Roy Lichtenstein that sold for $5.3 million, and other works by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly and Yves Klein.
“We are committed to rooting out tax abuses wherever we find them, especially in the art world, where the difference can be hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars in lost tax revenue per sale,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
In a statement, Rosen’s spokeswoman, Roxanne Donovan, said the settlement “relates to an uncertainty as to whether some of Mr. Rosen’s transactions were done as a private collector or as a dealer based on how artwork can be displayed for sale.”
Rosen, who previously served as the chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts, will continue to act as both a dealer and a private collector, she said.