Supermodel Bar Refaeli Questioned in Tax Evasion Probe

30-year-old former girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio quizzed for 12 hours by income tax authorities.

Bar Refaeli
Bar Refaeli holds the 2009 cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, as she unveils SI One, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 wrapped with her SI image at La Guardia Aairport in NY, Feb, 11, 2009. AFP

The identity of the world-renowned supermodel suspected of evading millions of shekels in taxes – the worst-kept secret in Israel – was formally revealed yesterday.

Bar Refaeli was questioned by the Income Tax Authority for 12 hours on Wednesday. She and her mother, Tzipi Refaeli, are suspected of receiving more than one million shekels ($260,000) of complementary and discounted products and services from businesses seeking to exploit her celebrity.

Among other things, Refaeli, who shot to fame after she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2009 swimsuit issue as girlfriend of Leonardo diCaprio, is suspected of accepting a Range Rover four-wheel drive vehicle and a Toyota Lexus from the vehicles’ importer. She also received gifts from contractors in exchange for leaks about her buying the properties in gossip columns.

The discounts are subject to income tax, but the two allegedly failed to report them to the authorities.

In one instance, Tzipi Refaeli is believed to have bought a discounted luxury apartment on condition that the publicity surrounding the deal would say that her daughter was, in fact, the buyer. The contractor, who has not been named, admitted to investigators that he had reduced the price of the property by 500,000 shekels.

Tax investigators are also questioning a senior manager at a company marketing apartments in the luxury Tel Aviv residential project Yoo, who is suspected of agreeing to cover the rental cost of a unit for the 30-year-old model and paying the apartment’s owner 200,000 shekels to vacate it, all in exchange for free publicity.

Refaeli and her mother have been barred from travelling abroad for six months without the permission of the authorities.

The worst-kept secret in Israel – the identity of the world-renowned supermodel who is suspected of evading millions of shekels of taxes – was revealed on Thursday. According to authorities, the model – who was quizzed on Wednesday for 12 hours by tax officials – is none other than Bar Refaeli.

Refaeli shot to fame when she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimwear edition in 2009 and as the girlfriend of Leonardo diCaprio.

Tax authorities suspect that the 30-year-old model and her mother received discounts on luxury goods and other gifts that were subject to income tax, but failed to report them to the authorities.

According to reports in the Israeli media, Refaeli will now have to deposit $64,000 with the tax authorities if she wants to leave the country.