Financial disclosures filed to US federal ethics authorities that were made public this week revealed that Steven Mnuchin, the son of the New York-based art dealer Robert Mnuchin and Donald Trump’s pick for the position of treasury secretary, has a $5m-$25m stake in a painting by the Abstract Expressionist artist Willem de Kooning.
Untitled III (1978), is the only work of art listed in the disclosure and belongs to an extensive set of holdings in Mnuchin’s “dynasty trust”, valued at $32.9m or more, according to Bloomberg news. Such a trust allows America’s richest families to shield their fortunes from the 40% federal estate tax. Mnuchin’s net worth is estimated at $620m, following a career as a trader at Goldman Sachs and an investor in Hollywood movies.
While Mnuchin plans to divest himself of his other investments within 90 days of his confirmation to avoid any conflicts of interest, is it not clear if the painting, listed under “other assets and income” is included in this. His total assets are estimated to be worth between $118m to $392m.
The work was last sold at auction for nearly $14.7m (est $12m-$18m) in 2014 at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary evening sale in New York. The catalogue notes that the work was previously owned by L&M arts, a gallery co-owned by Robert Mnuchin, and carried a third-party guarantee. The auction house declined to confirm to Artnet’s Eileen Kinsella, however, if Steven Mnuchin was the guarantor or currently owns the painting.