So there won't be so many wealthy bankers as usual at the Miami Art Basel this week. But people can at least expect to see lots of top execs and clients of the fair's sponsor, Swiss banking giant UBS, right? Sadly for already-despondent artists and dealers, it looks like a few of them may be well-advised to stay away, too: The FBI is reportedly heading down to Miami to mount a sting operation to ensnare a certain breed of tax-evader: Those for whom art collecting is a convenient method of surreptitiously moving vast sums of cash around, and if you have an anonymous Swiss bank account, even better!
Following the arrest of UBS global wealth management chairman Raoul Weil and UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld for conspiring to help clients evade tax (the latter is said to be "singing like a canary"), one of the firm's clients has already been ordered to pay $52 million in back taxes and penalties. Now hundreds more are under scrutiny, and conversation at the firm's lavish Friday night dinner, traditionally one of the see-and-be-seen nights of the fair, is expected to be a tad stilted against a backdrop of wiretaps in the champagne buckets and men in black listening to every brag and boast.