Blouin Hot Air? Panama Papers Expose Art Pub Mogul’s Offshore Companies

Louise Blouin at the Blouin Creative Leadership Summit in 2012.

Louise Blouin at the Blouin Creative Leadership Summit in 2012. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

The Panama Papers have outed yet another art worlder for hoarding offshore funds—this time the publishing giant behind artinfo.com and Modern Painters, Louise Blouin.

Apparently the Canadian media mogul, often referred to as the “Red Queen,” has five companies based in the British Virgin Islands, according to information in the leak to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which hit last week.

“I assume everything is in good standing,” Ms. Blouin told Torstar Media, as seen in Toronto Metro. “I’m not a lawyer and I’m not an accountant. So anything that was structured (in the) British Virgin Islands was done by Deloitte many, many years ago in the United Kingdom.”

After throwing her financial advisors under the bus, the notoriously private Ms. Blouin went on to assure the Torstar journalist that the creation of her shell companies were not for tax evasion purposes, but only to facilitate her “hobby”—the flipping of expensive real estate.

“It is like my art. It is a private hobby,” she added.

Ms Blouin, who’s personal wealth was estimated at $425 million a decade ago, made her fortune in the late ’80s and ’90s by selling online classified ad space through Trader Classified Media, which she owned with her second husband, John MacBain.

In 2003, she started art publishing company Louise Blouin Media, which is now centered around the website blouinartinfo.com. The company also publishes the print magazines Modern Painters, Art + Auction and Gallery Guide, and owns the french book publisher Somogy.

To be fair, offshore corporate holdings are completely legal, but the British Virgin Islands has a rich tradition as a tax haven for the international elite.

Ms. Blouin is listed as the registered owner of all five BVI companies and her third husband, 37-year-old Mathew Kabatoff, is listed as the director on three of the companies, according to a memo from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Still, Ms. Blouin, a resident of Switzerland according to Metro, maintains that nothing nefarious went on. “They structured it that way for facility,” Ms. Blouin said. “It was not for tax reasons.”

Blouin Hot Air? Panama Papers Expose Art Pub Mogul’s Offshore Companies