Skip to Main Content

ABC News Quotes Douglas Varley on Potential IRS Red Flags for Trump Charitable Transactions

February 28, 2019, ABC News

Longtime Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen described allegedly being asked by Trump "to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event." […] When the portrait ultimately was purchased by his representative -- for $60,000 -- Cohen said Trump "directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself."

. . .

Douglas Varley, a charity tax expert at the Washington law firm Caplin & Drysdale, told ABC News an incident like the one described by Cohen also would likely raise red flags at the IRS.

"The question would be, What was the charitable purpose for acquiring that painting?" Varley said. And, even if there was a charitable purpose in acquiring the painting "there would still be a question of whether there would be too much benefit to Mr. Trump."

For the full article, please visit ABC News’ website.

Excerpt taken from the article “Democrats Say Michael Cohen's Dramatic Testimony Escalates Need for Trump's Tax Returns” by Matthew Mosk and Tara Palmeri for ABC News.


About Caplin & Drysdale
Celebrating our 55th Anniversary in 2019, Caplin & Drysdale continues to be a leading provider of legal services to corporations, individuals, and nonprofits throughout the United States and around the world. We are also privileged to serve as legal advisors to accounting firms, financial institutions, law firms, and other professional services organizations.

The firm's reputation over the years has earned us the trust and respect of clients, industry peers, and government agencies. Moreover, clients rely on our broad knowledge of the law and our keen insights into their business concerns and personal interests. Our lawyers' strong tactical and problem-solving skills -- combined with substantial experience handling a variety of complex, high stakes, matters in a boutique environment -- make us one the nation's most distinctive law firms.

With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., Caplin & Drysdale's core practice areas include:
For more information, please visit us at
Washington, DC Office:
One Thomas Circle NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
New York, NY Office:
600 Lexington Avenue
21st Floor
New York, NY 10022


This communication does not provide legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship with you or any other reader. If you require legal guidance in any specific situation, you should engage a qualified lawyer for that purpose. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Attorney Advertising
It is possible that under the laws, rules, or regulations of certain jurisdictions, this may be construed as an advertisement or solicitation.
©2021 Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered
All Rights Reserved.

Related Professionals

Related Practice Area(s)