As trial nears, controversial Wildenstein family pushes for delays

“They’re creepy and they’re kooky; Mysterious and spooky; They inherited a vastly wealthy and powerful art gallery that secretly sold paintings to Hitler and Göring and other Nazis during the war; They’re altogether ooky, they’re the Wildenstein family,” Spy magazine wrote in a detailed 1991 exposè on the mysterious, billionaire family who controlled the masterpiece market. And some 25 years later, it seems that the Wildenstein’s may still be skirting the law.

The family’s patriarch, Guy Wildenstein and his nephew, Alec Junior Wildenstein, will soon stand trial for allegedly engineering a scheme to hide and launder huge sums of money inherited from Guy’s father Daniel Wildenstein, who died in 2001.

Meanwhile, French tax authorities are investigating Guy over allegations that he and his brother late Alec Wildenstein (know for helping his wife obtain “cat-like” features via countless plastic surgeries) hide hundreds of millions of euros in offshore trusts, according to Bloomberg. If found guilty, Guy could face a recovery order from the French tax authorities worth roughly $500 million.

But until the tax authorities are through with their investigation, the family is asking for the criminal trial to be postponed, according to Bloomberg.

On Monday, the Wildensteins will get a decision on their request for a second delay to the start of a trial.

“This isn’t a dodging strategy,” one of Guy’s lawyers, Herve Temime, said. The Wildenstein’s argue that they just want to avoid a “totally incoherent” situation where tax authorities don’t request a recovery, while judges might have ordered criminal convictions.

In NYC, the controversial family, which is accused of dealing in art stolen by the Nazis, has been selling off assets for quick cash. They listed their 21,072-square-foot mansion at 19 East 64th Street for $100 million earlier this year. Guy also listed his mansion at 7 Sutton Square for $49 million and Goffs Auction house announced that it would be auctioning off 110 of the Wildensteins’ race horses in September. [Bloomberg]