A. Alfred Taubman, a University alum who contributed $30 million to the College of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1999, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in New York City.
Taubman, the former chairman of Sotheby”s auction house, is charged with conspiracy to fix the commissions the auction house charges its customers. He could face a sentence of three years in prison and a fine of at least $350,000 if convicted. “I am surprised and deeply disappointed by the charges made against me,” Taubman said in a written statement.
Taubman is separating himself from the two other defendants, Anthony Tennant, the former chairman of Christie”s International Auction House and Diana Brooks, the former chief executive of Sotheby”s.
“As confirmed by the lie detector test I have taken, the truth is on my side,” Taubman said in the statement. “While any trial is difficult, I look forward to the opportunity to clear my name in court.”
The two auction houses control more than 90 percent of the world”s auctions of artwork, jewelry and furniture and have charged customers over $400 million in commissions since 1993.
Brooks pleaded guilty to price fixing in October and is likely to testify against Taubman and Tennant as part of a plea bargain agreement with federal prosecutors.
Nevertheless, Taubman maintains he is innocent.
“I am completely innocent, and have stated from the beginning of this investigation that whatever Dede Brown chose to do, she did it on her own and without my authorization,” he said.
The University is standing behind Taubman. In a statement, University President Lee Bollinger said the architecture school will continue to carry Taubman”s name no matter the outcome of the trial. “Al Taubman has been a loyal alumnus and a very good friend to the University,” he said. “We regret that he is facing these difficult circumstances. We will continue to recognize his longstanding support through those University academic programs and facilities that bear his name.”
Besides his $30 million contribution to the architecture school, Taubman made contributions to the medical center and library, which also carry his name. “His total gifts and pledges have been approximately $35.6 million,” University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said. “He is not the University”s largest donator but he is certainly a large contributor.”
Taubman contributed $3 million to the University”s Medical Center and $700,000 to the Medical Library, which resulted in both the Health Care Center and the library being named after him.