The Real Deal New York

Aby Rosen to pay $7M settlement over unpaid taxes on artwork

AG says developer didn't pay taxman on $80M worth of art
May 03, 2016 02:15PM

From left: "Virgin Mother" by and "Between Being Born and Dying" by Barbara Kruger (inset: Aby Rosen) (credit: Jesse David Harris)

From left: “Virgin Mother” by Damien Hirst and “Between Being Born and Dying” by Barbara Kruger (inset: Aby Rosen) (credit: Jesse David Harris)

You can’t “sell” your art and have it too — that’s the state attorney general’s message to developer Aby Rosen in a new $7 million legal settlement.

The art-loving real estate mogul must pay $7 million to settle claims that he failed to pay taxes on an $80 million trove of sculptures, paintings and other artwork collected or commissioned since 2002, the New York Times reported. Art dealers who buy work solely for resale don’t have to pay sales taxes, but state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Rosen can’t skirt taxes by saying the works are for sale and then treat the pieces as possessions or use them to promote his real estate interests.

“Law-abiding New Yorkers should not be stuck footing the bill for those who fail to pay their fair share,” Schneiderman said.

One of the pieces involved in the lawsuit was a $2.5 million sculpture of a pregnant woman with an exposed fetus designed by Damien Hirst.

A spokeswoman for Rosen told the newspaper that he will continue to act as an art dealer and private collector. According to the New York Times, Rosen claims his collection is worth “well over $500 million” and includes more than 800 works. In 2014, the RFR Holding co-founder said he sells 30 to 40 pieces of art at any given time.

Rosen, co-founder of RFR Holding, often incorporates pieces of his art collection in his properties, which include the Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue. In fact, the settlement has interesting timing: Rosen is hosting an event Tuesday night at the Seagram Building in honor of Frieze Week. [NYT]Kathryn Brenzel