Mary Boone, Art Dealer, Cites Early Trauma in Bid to Avoid Prison | Modern Society of USA

Mary Boone, Art Dealer, Cites Early Trauma in Bid to Avoid Prison

Mary Boone, Art Dealer, Cites Early Trauma in Bid to Avoid Prison

Lawyers for Mary Boone, the veteran art dealer who is facing possible prison time for filing false tax returns, are asking that she be spared incarceration, saying her offenses were the product of trauma, not greed.

Ms. Boone is scheduled to be sentenced later this month after pleading guilty last September to two counts of filing false returns for 2011 for herself and her gallery. Federal authorities had charged her with reporting a false business loss and claiming about $1.6 million in personal expenses as business deductions.

Each of the two counts carries a possible penalty of three years in prison.

But in a memorandum to Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan, Ms. Boone’s lawyers asked that she be sentenced instead to home confinement and probation with up to 1,000 hours of community service. Her troubled and unstable childhood led to mental health issues, a suicide attempt and drug and alcohol abuse, they wrote, and played a role in the crimes she committed. In particular, they said the poverty of her early life had left her fearful that, despite her success, she would end up destitute and dependent upon others.

“Behind the facade of success and strength lies a fragile and, at times, broken individual,” the lawyers wrote in the filing made last month.

The lawyers, Robert S. Fink and Michael Sardar, sent the judge a psychological evaluation of Ms. Boone and more than 100 letters attesting to her character from friends, artists, collectors and other art-world luminaries, including the Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei and the collector and philanthropist Peter Brant.

Prosecutors, who have yet to file a reply memo, according to court records, declined to comment on Monday. When Ms. Boone pleaded guilty to filing false returns for 2011, prosecutors said she had engaged in similar schemes in the previous two years.

Defendants routinely ask judges for leniency — requests that are often contested by prosecutors.

Ms. Boone opened her gallery in Soho in 1977 and rose to prominence while showing the work of artists like Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat. A vivacious and sometimes imposing figure, she became a constant in the ever-changing art world, continuing over decades to show the work of younger artists.

According to her lawyers, Ms. Boone’s father died at the age of 29, when she was 3, leading to a childhood filled with “abject poverty” and grief. Her drive to succeed, they wrote, was fueled by a fear that she would “end up penniless, like her mother, and die young, like her father.”

Psychological examinations show that Ms. Boone suffers from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic symptoms, her lawyers wrote. They argued that keeping Ms. Boone out of prison would enable an important business, and employer, to remain open and that her strength of character was evident in her successful fight to combat addictions to alcohol and cocaine. She has not used either in 20 years, according to the defense memo.

Ms. Boone is now “repentant and remorseful,” her lawyers said, and has paid $6.9 million in taxes, interest and penalties related to her 2009, 2010 and 2011 tax returns.

In his letter to the judge urging leniency at Ms. Boone’s sentencing, now set for Jan. 18, Mr. Ai wrote: “Through my contact with Mary I come to know that she is caring with a kind heart.”

Source link