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Press Release

New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion in Connection With Sale of Purportedly Original Caravaggio Painting

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty today to tax evasion in connection with over $1.2 million in income related to the proceeds of a sale of a purportedly original Caravaggio painting.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Matthew D. Line, Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Nashville Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Troy Sowers of the FBI’s Knoxville Field Office made the announcement. 

Brian Gimelson, 48 of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to evade or defeat a tax before U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the Southern District of Indiana.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 1, 2019 by Judge Pratt.

According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, Gimelson earned a substantial income for his role in a transaction involving the sale of a purportedly original painting by the Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi, commonly known as Caravaggio titled David With the Head of Goliath (the Caravaggio Painting).  Despite earning over $1.2 million in income on this transaction, Gimelson did not timely file income tax returns and he did not timely pay tax due and owing to the United States. 

In order to conceal his income and evade the payment of his tax liabilities, Gimelson created a company, had his wife serve as managing member of the company, and used this company to facilitate the Caravaggio Painting transaction.  Despite creating this company in his wife’s name, Gimelson admitted that he controlled the company and its bank accounts, including the fees Gimelson received for his role in the Caravaggio Painting transaction.  Gimelson further admitted that he directed his wife to make frequent and substantial cash withdrawals on his behalf from company accounts, and Gimelson used company funds to purchase collectibles and precious metals, among other things. 

The case is being investigated by IRS-CI’s Nashville Field Office and the FBI’s Knoxville Field Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Danny Nguyen and Caitlin Cottingham of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. 

Updated September 12, 2018

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 18-1175