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High-profile art dealer charged in investigation

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11:54 CEST+02:00

Guy Wildenstein, art dealer and a government representative in New York for French citizens overseas, was charged on Wednesday in an investigation around missing artwork. He is accused of obtaining goods through an abuse of trust.

The charges stem from artworks that had been missing for almost two decades which were found by police during a search of the Wildenstein Institute in Paris in January, including an oil painting by impressionist artist Berthe Morisot valued at €800,000.

Wildenstein is the son of renowned art dealer David Wildenstein, who had a valuable collection of art and who died in 2001. His widow, Sylvia Roth, filed charges against her son-in-law before her death in November 2010. She had accused him of hiding a large part of his father’s immense fortune from tax authorities and other heirs.

The accused, who resides in New York, was released on his own recognisance, according to his lawyer.

“I welcome this situation which will allow Mr. Guy Wildenstein to defend himself and I have no doubt as to the case’s outcome,” Hervé Temime told AFP.

Ever since the death of David Wildenstein, his three heirs – Sylvie Roth and his sons, Guy and Alec – have been involved in a bitter dispute over his financial legacy.

Guy Wildenstein, who in addition to his art world activities is a businessman, racehorse owner and member of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, was inducted into the French Legion of Honour in 2009 by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

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