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Embattled Woerth 'used position' to secure tax break for artist legacy

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-08-04

French Labour Minister Eric Woerth is facing fresh accusations of financial misconduct following claims he intervened in the inheritance of artist Cesar Baldaccini to secure a 27-million-euro tax break.

French Labour Minister Eric Woerth was subject to yet more allegations of financial wrongdoing on Wednesday, in connection with the will of French artist Cesar Baldaccini.

Left-leaning daily Liberation claims letters dated from April 2008 show “Woerth unambiguously used the full weight of his ministerial position” to get a 27-million-euro tax reduction on the inheritance of the world-famous sculptor.

Known universally as Cesar, the artist was at the forefront of the Nouveau Réalisme movement with his radical compressions (compacted cars and scrap metal), expansions (polyurethane foam sculptures), and representations of animals and insects.

France’s annual Cesar Award for film is named after the artist, who designed the trophies. Cesar died in Paris in 1998.

Following his death there was an extended dispute over his will between his widow and daughter on the one hand and Stephanie Busuttil, his partner at the time of his death on the other.

Woerth’s intervention, according to the newspaper, followed discussions with the executor of the will, Alain-Dominique Perrin, who is president of the Fondation Cartier modern art gallery in Paris.

Woerth’s summer of discontent

The allegations come at a bad time for Woerth, who throughout the summer has been embroiled in a much-publicised scandal involving billionaire L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Claims made by news website Mediapart allege that Woerth collected 150,000 euros from the late Andre Bettencourt and his wife Liliane in 2007 towards Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential election campaign.

Woerth was treasurer to Sarkozy’s UMP party at the time, a position he has since resigned from.

He denied any wrongdoing and said he had not received the cash, as alleged by the Bettencourt’s former accountant in the Mediapart exposé.

The embattled Labour Minister said the Bettencourt cash claims were intended to undermine deeply unpopular pension reforms he is trying to push through.



Date created : 2010-08-04


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