Leaked documents detailing the extensive art collection of Sotheby’s auction house owner Patrick Drahi raise questions about the French businessman’s tax affairs.
The hacked files, which allege Drahi tried to avoid paying taxes on his $775 million art collection, were stolen by Hive, a ransomware group that the FBI and the US Department of Health and of Social Services have already issued warnings about his hacks of commercial networks and health services.
Drahi, who is the founder and owner of telecommunications company Altice, is worth $4 billion, according to Forbes. He bought Sotheby’s in 2019 through his investment firm BidFair USA, taking the auction house private after 31 years as a public company.
In August, reports surfaced that Hive had stolen data from Altice and subsequently posted documents on the dark web after an unfulfilled ransom demand. reflections, a French website that reported on these documents in a series of articles, was sued in September by Altice for violating trade secrets. Whereas reflections was banned from publishing any further articles on the subject, the court ruled that his existing articles could remain online.
The cache of documents was also consulted by the French publication The world and Swiss point of sale News Heidi, who conducted joint investigations into Drahi’s tax affairs. The billionaire is said to own more than 200 works worth at least 750 million euros ($775 million) through Before SA, one of Drahi’s Luxembourg-based holding companies, according to reports from the outlets. sale.
Hacked Data Reveals Drahi’s Alleged Tax Evasion Attempts
Some of Drahi’s works include 1955 by Pablo Picasso Turkish woman in costume in an armchair, worth 27 million euros (nearly $28 million) and 1918 by Amedeo Modigliani Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne seated in an armchair, valued at 71 million euros ($72 million). Drahi also owns 1981 by Francis Bacon Triptych inspired by Aeschylus’ Oresteia, which he bought for $84.6 million in 2020 at a Sotheby’s auction.
While in possession of his Luxembourg-based holding company, Drahi could avoid paying capital gains tax for his artwork. However, he reportedly changed his approach after the EU adopted new policies in 2017 aimed at tackling tax avoidance in countries like Luxembourg, according to emails, sales contracts and memos. examined by The world and Heidi News.
With the advice of tax advisers in Luxembourg and Switzerland, the owner of Sotheby’s reportedly transferred his works to two front companies registered in October 2021 in the tax haven of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean nation. The companies, named Angelheart Ltd and Forever Ltd, were registered in the names of Drahi’s children and purchased his collection for 764 million euros ($791 million) with funding from Drahi. A second contract was then drawn up to reduce this number of sales by 17.7 million euros ($18.3 million), after Drahi’s tax experts suggested a reduction in the sale price in order to avoid pay capital gains tax.
“Mr. Drahi and his family have always paid all the taxes due under each relevant regulation,” said Arthur Dreyfuss, CEO of Altice France, in a statement to the Observer. public because of a criminal theft. We are working closely with the authorities on this issue.
Drahi and tax advisory firms linked to the French businessman did not respond to requests for comment.