Christie's and Sotheby's have been ordered to turn over information prosecutors believe is essential to their case against Jeffrey Epstein and the pedophile's estate. OK! has obtained court records that show the world's largest auction houses were served with a subpoena this week by prosecutors in the Virgin Islands. Those lawyers are still busy building their case 11 months after first filing charges against the deceased pedophile and his estate.
These subpoenas, along with a third that has been issued to the Chicago Deferred Exchange Company, relate specifically to Epstein's art purchases. OK! can further reveal that three specific pieces that caught the attention of prosecutors — a painting by Pablo Picasso and two works from Paul Cézanne. Those three pieces stand out because Epstein may have bartered for them by trading in art he or a client already owned while allegedly working out a deal to avoid paying any taxes on the purchase.
They also stand out because the value of all three combined is a staggering $139 million. It seems however that it was not Epstein who was to keep those paintings and that he may have instead been working on behalf of a client. One of the three paintings - a Cezanne watercolor - was purchased by the same company Leon Black has used to buy most of his billion-dollar art collection. The other Cezanne was also purchased by a company that has been linked to Black, while it is unclear who got the Picasso. Nowhere does it state that Black purchased these paintings or had instructed Epstein to obtain the artwork on his behalf.
Prosecutors are asking that Christie's and Sotheby's hand over:
REQUEST NO. 1 All Documents reflecting or relating to inquiries, sales, bids, Communications with or about Jeffrey E. Epstein, any Epstein Agent and/or Epstein Entity redacted, or any redacted.
REQUEST NO. 2 All Documents reflecting or relating to inquiries, sales, or bids for any artwork or other object by any of the individuals or entities in Request No 1. This includes but is not limited to financial information related to the inquiries, sales, or bids.
REQUEST NO. 3 All Documents reflecting or relating to the tax treatment or transfers to other entities for artwork or other objects by any of the individuals or entities in Request No. l
REQUEST NO. 4 All Documents relating to the redacted, redacted, or redacted.
The third subpoena, issued to CDECRE, is similar to the above two, but with one additional question. That company will have to hand over all records pertaining to a 2018 tax audit that uncovered what looked to be a possible taxation scam that played out in these transactions.
OK! was able to obtain the original Division of Taxation filing, which read in part:
Specifically, the Division disallowed the application of trade-in credits on invoices issued by petitioner in three separate transactions. One involved a transaction between petitioner and an entity called redacted. On the bill of sale to redacted for that entity’s purchase of a Cezanne watercolor, petitioner reduced the sale price subject to sales tax by computing a trade-in credit for artwork that redacted transferred to petitioner in connection with the exchange. The second transaction was between petitioner and redacted involving a different Cezanne watercolor. On the bill of sale to redacted for that entity’s purchase of the watercolor, petitioner reduced the sale price subject to sales tax by computing a trade-in credit for artwork redacted transferred to petitioner in connection with the exchange. The third transaction was between petitioner and redacted for a Picasso painting. On the invoice issued to redacted for that entity’s purchase of the Picasso painting, petitioner reduced the sales price subject to sales tax by computing a trade-in credit for artwork transferred by DSOCA to petitioner in connection with the exchange.
A notice of determination later came back "asserting sales and use tax in the amount of $3,622,597.52 for the periods ended May 31, 2016 and November 30, 2016, plus interest." That on top of the $8 million that had already been paid in New York taxes.
It does remain unclear just what Epstein's role, if any, may have been in this. The news that $139 million was spent on these three works is quite substantial. Especially since those who knew Epstein have loing noted that he enjoyed putting up counterfeit art throughout his homes.
Picasso set a record during this same time period between 2015-16 when his "The Women of Algiers" sold for $179.4 million at Christie's, while at Sotheby's his "Femme Assise" sold for $63.7 million at auction. Cézanne meanwhile is well beyond that record, having reached a high of $250 million when his painting "The Card Players" sold at auction in 2011.