Art collector Michael Shvo pleads guilty to tax evasion, but avoids jail

New York real estate developer and art collector Michael Shvo pleaded guilty to tax evasion in Manhattan Supreme Court yesterday. He must pay $ 3.5 million in back taxes and fines, but will avoid jail, which the Manhattan district attorney’s office originally requested.

Shvo is reported to have admitted to “knowingly and intentionally” escaping New York State and local taxes, including sales tax, compensatory use tax, and corporate tax, in connection with the purchase and sale of a Ferrari, furniture, jewelry and works of art. (No specific artwork was identified in the indictment.)

“We are delighted that the case against Michael Shvo has been fully resolved, the only requirement being that he pay the taxes owed,” Shvo’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told artnet News. Shvo will avoid jail as long as he pays the amount by June 1 at the latest. There is no probation associated with the charge, says Brafman.

Between 2010 and 2016, Shvo “embarked on a long-term program to evade payment of state and local sales and use tax” on purchases and “falsely represented the purchases he made would be shipped to an out-of-state address in the Cayman Islands or other overseas destinations, “according to court documents. But the indictment claims he did ship the purchases to his. office or his Manhattan and Hamptons homes.

The DA also alleged that Shvo attempted to hide the assets of his company, Shvo Art Ltd, from tax, by falsely claiming that the company and its assets were located overseas while Shvo instead operated out of New York.

The Getty station in 2013 with the Lalanne sheep designed by Michael Shvo. Courtesy of,

Shvo caught the art’s attention in 2013 when he transformed a Getty gas station on West 24th Street into a temporary installation of François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne’s “feeding station,” with the sheep. emblematic of Lalanne. It has since been transformed into a luxury condo building, titled The Getty, adjacent to the High Line elevated park.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance originally announced the indictment in September 2016 and said, “This indictment warns other art buyers.”

By this time, leading art dealer Larry Gagosian and collector Aby Rosen had already settled tax evasion cases with the prosecutor’s office.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news, eye-opening interviews and cutting-edge reviews that keep the conversation going.

Norma D. Ross