Carnegie Hall chairman is in tax trouble

Carnegie Hall chairman is in tax trouble


norman lebrecht

December 10, 2020

The Carnegie Hall board says it is standing by its chairman Robert F. Smith, who has admitted failing to report some $200 million of income to the I.R.S..

Sort of thing that could slip anybody’s mind. NY Times has the full story.


  • David Leibowitz says:


  • So Carnegie Hall is standing by someone who hid $200 million from the IRS. Says a lot about America’s neo-feudalistic system of funding the arts by donations from the wealthy and the privileging of the wealthy it allows. The USA is the only developed country in the world that does not have a comprehensive system of public arts funding.

    • JJC says:

      It says nothing of the sort. And why, given its recent history, would anyone trust the IRS? I say innocent until proven guilty.

      • MacroV says:

        Which recent history? Everyone loves to hate the IRS, of course, and Congress (esp. Republicans) has underfunded it for years.

        Robert Smith has gotten caught up in a big fraud involving the person who helped make him a billionaire (name escapes me). But yes, he’s entitled to due process.

      • Woke says:

        Uhhh, because he admitted it? Haha

      • fflambeau says:

        You need to study up on “admissions of a party opponent” in the law; it’s a confession of guilt and will be used against him. People do not usually plead guilty to something they have not done.

        • David K. Nelson says:

          Wellllll ….. people plead guilty for a variety of reasons one of them being the suggestion of lenient treatment if they do, and the risk of harsh treatment if they roll the dice and lose even if they firmly believe in their own innocence.

          And someone with $200 million to “not report as income” is not like the ordinary person who sits there biting their pencil and ODing on coffee as they prepare their own tax returns. These days they don’t even sign a paper return.

          Some of the biggest and most “reputable” accounting, financial planning, and investment advising firms are way out there on their advice that they insist will work. Even a lawyer who is not a tax lawyer finds themselves in hot water over some of the elaborate schemes dreamed up by these people. Charitable remainder trusts, investor owned life insurance on strangers, investor owned annuties on strangers, dealing and investing in promissory notes and BitCoins.

          I am not saying this guy is as innocent and as pure as the driven snow, but believe me, once you have those amounts of money there is a world of advisors out there who say things and propose things and you are in no position to think otherwise, it is all just too complex. I have no idea what the details are here.

          But let’s say an advisor (for a huge fee) advises that you form a captive reinsurance company to insurer the activities of your business, so that you no longer pay premiums to a commercial insurer. You are in a sense self insured but with an entity which is an insurer which collects premums, presumably creates reserves, and pays claims. They typically are exempt from state regulation of insurance provided you inform the state insurance company that the captive company exists and you agree to file some financial forms from time to time.

          He further suggests that your children be made the trustees of that reinsurance company so that its value is not included in your estate upon death. So his business pays its premiums to the captive insurance company, deducts them as business expenses. We might be talking millions of dollars.

          Did he just make a tax free gift to his kids?
          Tax fraud or not? You have 15 minutes to answer and explain (welcome to law school)

    • J. Stanocci says:

      Everybody naturally loves money. Take the Left. When it’s coming from somebody else or somewhere else they stupidly fall for it every time.

      People have forgotten a prime example the Met sucked off until they were caught and the Grand Tier was humbled. Does Vilar ring any luxe bells?

      Well, they still have T. Ann Ziff; especially Peter; neither of which are self-made. WINK!

    • Lee Stern says:

      Carnegie Hall suffers from a black out.

  • John Kelly says:

    The IRS invariably get their man (or woman) – though it often takes a while. Think Al Capone…………next stop………..D. J. Trump. You saw it here first, as Norman likes to say…………..

    • Peter San Diego says:

      The Manhattan DA might get there before the IRS…

    • PaulD says:

      Actually, the “next stop” is Hunter Biden, who is being investigated by the U.S. attorney in Delaware.

    • Paul Mirga says:

      Hunter Biden is actually next up for both the Feds and IRS.

      It’s reported by an UNIMPEACHABLE news source:


    • William Safford says:

      You may very well be right, although it would not surprise me if the NY AG and/or the Manhattan DA get to the Orange Enemy of the People first.

      Here’s another wrinkle. What if the Orange One attempts to pardon himself? There are serious doubts as to the legality of self-pardoning, but it remains untested in the courts.

      Here’s yet another wrinkle. What if the Orange One were to persuade Vice President Pence to collaborate with him. There are two possible scenarios: (a) the Orange One resigns before his term is up, and the newly-installed President Pence pardons him, or (b) the Orange One invokes the 25th Amendment and temporarily steps down from the job, and the Acting President Pence pardons him.

      If there were to be such a successful pardon, then the Orange One would be immune from Federal prosecution for his crimes, including the IRS.

      However, he cannot pardon himself, or be pardoned by a President Pence, for his state-level crimes.

      I wonder if the Orange One may go into exile on January 20th, somewhere wherefrom he cannot be extradited.

      (President-Elect Biden is on the record that he will not pardon the Orange One.)

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Maybe he should try the Steve Martin defense: “Excuuuuuuuse Me!”

  • Fred Funk says:

    Just WHO is his accountant? A viola player with a day job?

  • Scandalous says:

    Another corrupt plutocrat who made his fortune through criminal activities. Read the WaPo’s telling account.
    Carnegie is funded by the largest tax criminal in US history and stands by him because he is Black. Pathetic.

    Fund the arts through dirty money while passing the tax bill onto poor earnest saps like us. One needn’t wonder why the business is dying. None of Carnegie’s virtue signaling and parading their Black chairman will save them when the bell tolls.

  • Quinn Teague says:

    Smith reminds us all of the sham Hamilton musical.

    It’s funny to some until the money stops flowing.

  • Alexander Graham Cracker says:

    As someone who has also never reported $200 to the IRS, I feel bad for the guy.