The US Senate Seeks Explanation for Leon Black’s Art Dealings

The US Senate Committee Asks an Art Collector Leon Black to Explain His Art Dealings and Transactions with Jeffrey Epstein.

Sep 1, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The US Senate Investigation into Leon Black
Leon Black and Debra Black with the townhouse (Getty, Beauchamp Estates)


The US Senate wants to know more about Leon Black’s financial connections to Jeffrey Epstein. Senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter explaining the US Senate Finance Committee’s investigation. Black is not only an art dealer, but also a former Museum of Modern Art chairman. He received a long letter, where’s a suspicion of him holding back data about dealings with Epstein.


The US Senate $158M Paid to Epstein

The MoMa main entrance. Via WIkipedia


The Committee stated its reason for investigation. “As you are aware, the Committee is investigating the $158 million in payments you made to Epstein for services related to a variety of tax and estate planning matters. In particular, the Committee seeks information on Epstein’s participation in structuring trusts and other complex transactions designed to avoid federal gift and estate taxes on as much as $2 billion in wealth transferred to your children”, the letter reads.


The Committe also seeks and additional information regarding Epstein’s “extraordinary compensation scheme, which involved amounts that far exceeded those paid to other professional advisors” employed by Black. Blake did not speak for himself, but instead his spokesperson gave a few information through email.


Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA Moma. Via wikipedia


The email said: “Mr. Black cooperated extensively with the Committee, providing detailed information about the matters under review. The transactions referenced in the Committee’s letter were lawful in all respects, were conceived of, vetted and implemented by reputable law firms and tax and other advisors, and Mr. Black has fully paid all taxes owed to the government”.

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Art Advice Received From Epstein

The exterior of Kimbell Art Museum, via ArchDaily


Under the center of the investigation are objects of artistic value, for which Epstein gave him advice on how to preserve them. Committee stated ” Epstein provided substantial advice related to his private art collection, which is worth over $1 billion”. The letter further reads: “This advice reportedly included helping you form a new art partnership as well as assistance in connection with the sale of certain pieces of artwork”.


Wyden also wants to know further about the “purpose” of the latest artistic collaboration, Also, he wants to know about “any art loans that involved Epstein.  This also includes Epstein’s role in those loans”. Last but not least, he requested a record of “any like-kind trade transactions” including pieces of art that were worth more than $1 million.


Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae: Moses after the sculpture by Michelangelo by Jacob Matham, 16th century, via Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


A “like-kind” exchange—or a “1031” is a term named after a tax provision in the Internal Revenue Cod. It allows investors to defer capital gain taxes by using the proceeds from the sale of like-valued assets held for investment purposes. Also, The provision was popular with art flippers looking to dodge the high capital gains rate (28 percent) that blue-chip artworks occur.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.