Art Dealer Mary Boone Pleads Guilty to Federal Tax Crimes

(Bloomberg) -- New York art dealer Mary Boone, who became a boldfaced name in the 1980s representing painters like Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Salle and Julian Schnabel, earned unwelcome notoriety Wednesday after pleading guilty to federal tax charges.

Boone, who owns and operates galleries on Fifth Avenue and in Chelsea, could face as long as six years behind bars after admitting she failed to pay millions of dollars in taxes and filed false tax returns for her gallery, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

"This is the worst day of my life," Boone, 66, said in an email. "I have learned from my mistake and I am working very hard to put it behind me."

Prosecutors said Boone’s galleries should have paid more than $1.2 million on $3.7 million profit for 2011 but instead claimed a tax liability of just $335. She also used business funds to pay for more than $1.6 million in personal expenses, including $800,000 to renovate one apartment and $120,000 rent on a second residence, and then claimed the payments as a business expense, Berman said.

Boone has agreed to pay more than $3 million in restitution for taxes she owes for 2009, 2010 and 2011. She’s scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 18.

Boone, who opened her first gallery 40 years ago, made a name for herself representing hot artists of the 1980s who signaled the return of figurative painting. She graced the cover of a 1982 New York Magazine story titled, “The New Queen of the Art Scene.”

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