How Iconic NYC Art Dealer Mary Boone Landed in Prison

One of the world's most famous gallerists starts a two and a half year term next month

Mary Boone
Mary Boone at the Christophe de Menil fashion show at The Palladium in 1985.
(Patrick McMullan / Getty Images)
By Kayla Kibbe / April 19, 2019 3:48 pm

It takes a storied career to make going to prison feel like rest.

That’s how Mary Boone referred to her upcoming two and a half year prison sentence in a recent interview with Town & Country.

“I’m going to go away for a little rest for a couple of years,” Boone told the magazine in a profile, reportedly with “the hint of a sob.”

The famous New York City art dealer was found guilty of tax fraud and received her sentence in February.

According to the IRS’s findings, Boone falsified tax returns from 2009 – 2011, writing off an $800,000 apartment remodel, a $24,380 beauty salon bill and nearly $20,000 in designer products from Hermès and Louis Vuitton as business expenses. In 2011, Boone paid just $335 in federal taxes when she should have owed $1.2 million.

Boone told the outlet that she’s reached out to fellow former white-collar inmate Martha Stewart for advice. “If I could handle my situation with the grace, intelligence, humor, and humility that she did, I would be happy,” Boone said of the home entertaining mogul, who famously served time in 2004 for insider trading.

The feature traced Boone’s rise to the top of the New York City art world throughout her 45-year career. At the peak of the art industry’s 1980s boom, which Town and Country credits in large part to Boone herself, the art dealer counted high-profile artists like Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat among her clients.

Boone’s legal troubles began with a nasty lawsuit after actor Alec Baldwin accused the high-profile dealer of selling him a fake in 2007. While Boone ultimately settled after a lengthy battle, paying the actor at least $1 million in 2017, she maintained her innocence, telling Town & Country the settlement “was not an admission of guilt.”

Shortly thereafter, Boone’s tax charges hit. After pleading guilty and paying a reported $6.98 million in back taxes, Boone received her 30-month prison sentence.

Boone’s gallery will shut down in May, when the former queen of the New York City art scene will report to the Federal Correction Institution in Danbury, Connecticut.

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