A "loathsome" luxury real estate broker-turned-developer turned himself in to face tax evasion charges this morning. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said, "As alleged in the indictment, Michael Shvo went to great lengths to defraud New Yorkers out of more than a million dollars in tax revenue."
Shvo is behind some ambitious NYC buildings and his glitzy lifestyle was recently profiled in a Wall Street Journal feature about his Time Warner Center apartment and Hamptons home. A sample: "Warhol pieces dominate the walls, including one of his iconic Flowers paintings" ... "In the [Hamptons] backyard is a swimming pool as well as sculptures, the most prominent of which is a large François-Xavier Lalanne gorilla."
He surrendered this morning to authorities, who claim that he dodged local, state and corporate taxes on his businesses or purchases and sales of fine art, jewelry an cars.
According to a press release from Vance's office, Shvo would allegedly tell auction houses and art galleries that his purchases would be going to the Cayman Islands, but "purchases were shipped to his office or homes in New York, including an apartment on Columbus Circle and a house in New York’s Hamptons." Also:
"In at least one instance, SHVO also evaded payment of New York State and local use tax on a new Ferrari 458 Spider that he purchased from an out-of-state dealer by establishing a limited liability company in Montana called SEREN LLC—named after the defendant’s wife—and registering the luxury vehicle to the company. In fact, no business was ever conducted in Montana and the vehicle was used in New York. In total, the defendant evaded payment of more than $1,000,000 in New York State and local sales and use tax."
He's also accused of evading $275,000 in corporate tax by saying his company was operated offshore—when he was really doing business in NYC and the Hamptons.
Shvo's love of art extended to an old gas station in Chelsea that he purchased. Before turning it into a luxury condo (of course), he installed a "sheep meadow" with sheep sculptures.
A spokesman for Shvo, Ronn Torossian, said that his client "looks forward to his day in court, where he will mount a defense to all charges related to his art business and is confident he will be acquitted.... While Mr. Shvo is prominent in the art world, he has not committed any crime nor did he act with any criminal intent whatsoever."
In the Wall Street Journal feature, lauded chef and friend Daniel Boulud called Shvo a "'disrupter' who sometimes ruffles the feathers of those who cling to tradition: "When he’s passionate about something he goes all the way."