Sotheby’s Sued over Allegations of Unpaid Sales Taxes on Collector’s Art Acquisitions

  • New York AG Letitia James sued international auction house Sotheby’s, Inc. for allegedly underpaying millions of dollars in sales tax in violation of the New York False Claims Act, which unlike the federal False Claims Act applies to failure to pay taxed due to New York.
  • The complaint, which stems from a 2018 settlement between the AG’s office and Porsal Equities relating to art acquisitions by Porsal Equities from Sotheby’s, alleges that Sotheby’s knowingly issued false tax exemption certificates, known as resale certificates, which stated that Porsal Equities was purchasing art for resale as an art dealer while in reality it bought the items for its owner’s personal collection.
  • The suit seeks damages, civil penalties, and attorneys’ fees and costs.