Herbert Axelrod, Stradivarius Donor and Alleged Tax Fugitive, Arrested at Berlin Airport
Thursday, June 17, 2004
By Jeffrey Gold
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) ó A fugitive millionaire wanted on tax fraud charges in New Jersey was arrested at an airport [Berlin-Tegel] in Germany, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Herbert Axelrod with his wife, Evelyn (photo: New Jersey Symphony Orchestra)Herbert Axelrod, 76, fled the United States soon after being indicted in April on charges that he conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by helping a former executive of his pet-book publishing company hide $700,000 in a Swiss bank account.
He also has drawn attention for rare musical instruments he valued at $100 million and donated or sold at a discount. Michael Himmel, a lawyer who has represented Axelrod, said Wednesday that he had not yet spoken to Axelrod and declined to comment. The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey said it notified German authorities that it would seek to have Axelrod sent back to the United States.
Axelrod operated TFH Publications, which specializes in books on animals and pets, and whose products include the Nylabone line of dog toys.
The tax-fraud charges are unrelated to an FBI review of an $18 million deal last year in which Axelrod sold the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra 30 rare string instruments the philanthropist had valued at $50 million.
Authorities reportedly are trying to determine whether Axelrod inflated the instruments' value to make himself eligible for a large tax write-off, and are said to be looking into his 1998 donation of four Stradivarius musical instruments ó also valued at $50 million by Axelrod ó to the Smithsonian Institution.
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