Inside Robert Paltrow's Criminal Past

Due to the Apple+ television series, "WeCrashed," Robert Paltrow, father of Rebekah Neumann (above), is gaining a bit of attention. Besides being Rebekah's father, Robert is also the uncle of actress Gwyneth Paltrow. According to The Cinemaholic, Robert is portrayed in the series as a mysterious and wealthy man who is not convinced of the success of WeWork, the shared workspace company launched by Rebekah and her husband, Adam Neumann. The series reportedly touches on the legal troubles Robert encountered that started around 1984.

Rebekah came from a family of affluence, according to Bustle. The family had a summer home in Martha's Vineyard, a winter house in Vail, and owned beachfront property in Palm Beach. Her mother, Evelyn, made plenty of money with an accessories-turned-lingerie business Gelmart. Robert stayed busy with a number of "revenue streams," one of which was a junk-mail distribution company he co-founded with a friend, called North American Communications Inc. (NAC), per The Cinemaholic.

Robert Paltrow established two charities in the '80s

When the mail distribution venture started to lose money, Robert founded American Cancer Research Funds Inc. (ACRF) and the American Heart Research Foundation, Inc. (AHRF) in 1983 and 1984 to help raise funds for each cause. Justia reports that at the time, Robert was president of NAC, which turned out to be convenient because he was able to use the NAC to mail out solicitations to receive donations for the ACRF and AHRF.

Moreover, Robert applied for a reduced-rate mailing permit with the U.S. Postal Service, citing that the ACRF was a non-profit organization. He used ACRF's non-profit status to also send out mailers and surveys on behalf of the AHRF.  Through managing the direct mail account for both organizations, the NAC ended up saving Robert approximately $472,000 (via Justia) from the non-profit discounts. There was just one little problem in Robert's plan.

The charities were bogus

The ACRF and the AHRF were not actually charities, but what Justia refers to as "old-fashioned swindles." Furthermore (per the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire), court documents claim that the charities raised approximately $1.5 million, with a "good portion of the funds" received by the charities going to the NAC, not the charities. In fact, the documents go on to say that Robert admitted in court that the charities were frauds created specifically to "generate profits and business" for NAC and pleaded to 10 counts of mail fraud. In addition, it was noted that Robert conducted himself in a "shameful and deceitful manner preying on the kindness and generosity of the public." 

In 1996, the U.S. issued a claim against Paltrow in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire for "unjust enrichment, seeking to recover the value of postage discounts improperly used by two bogus charities," per the U.S. District Court for New Hampshire.

North American Communications Inc. shut down in 2019

North American Communications was established in 1979, and the Altoona Mirror reported that the company became one of the leading direct mail companies in the industry. NAC's production facility was located in Duncansville, Pennsylvania, and employed around 270 people. The sales office for NAC was located in Armonk, New York, where Paltrow reportedly worked (via CaseText). An SEC filing named Paltrow as Secretary and Treasurer of NAC from 1981 through 1996, and as CEO of the company in 2007.

NAC shut down its Duncansville plant suddenly in 2019, claiming an inability to "regain its footing" after "several setbacks" affected its financial obligations (via Altoona Mirror). Approximately 250 employees filed a lawsuit against the company for failure to give them 60 days notice that they would be losing their jobs. They claimed they were owed 60 days wages, accrued holiday and vacation pay as well as other benefits, reported the Altoona Mirror.

Robert Paltrow financed his lavish lifestyle through NAC

Before NAC shuttered its doors, the direct mail business was apparently lucrative enough for Robert to finance an extravagant lifestyle. Court documents (via Court Listener) showed that Robert used company funds to pay rent on his homes in Palm Beach and New York. Robert used NAC money to pay for a host of other things including a housekeeper, luxury vacations, meals, designer clothing, memberships to exclusive country clubs, entertainment purposes, and travel to Colorado, Canada, France, and New Zealand. He also paid for personal, legal, and medical care (including prescriptions, doctor visits, and hospital stays) with NAC funds.

Robert also used NAC cash to buy five luxury automobiles for his personal use. If that's not enough, he purchased four vintage race cars valued at over $600,000 with funds from NAC. The company paid for many expenses associated with the vehicles, including maintenance, transport, and entrance fees into races (via Court Listener).

Paltrow committed tax evasion in 2007 and 2008

Robert's next run-in with the law occurred in 2014, about the same time that stories about WeWork began to bring up Rebekah Neumann's involvement with the company, per Bustle. Robert was once again charged with not paying his fair share, and this time, it was the Internal Revenue Service that came after him. The Daily Mail reports that Robert claimed he made $101,401 on tax returns filed for 2007, resulting in a $45,114 payment to the government. In addition, he claimed that he made $93,137 in 2008, meaning he owed the feds $44,926. But in reality, Paltrow made much more than he claimed. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Robert failed to report nearly $4.8 million in taxable income for 2007 and 2008, which meant he underpaid the federal government almost $800,000 in income tax. Esquire reports that in 2014, he pleaded guilty to the charges.

Robert Paltrow sold one of his homes in 2014

While Robert was waiting to hear what his sentence would be for defrauding the government, he sold a beachfront home in Palm Beach. The Palm Beach Daily News reports that the home, located at 1250 North Ocean Boulevard, sold for more than $7 million. The three-story Mediterranean-style home, built in 1928, has six bedrooms and a pavilion facing the beach. The house had been listed for a year, and the original list price was $10.5 million, but that number was dropped to $8.75 million. Marsha Beeson reportedly purchased the home for $7.27 million in 2014.

The Palm Beach Daily News reports that Robert homesteaded the home, which means that it was protected against creditors and property taxes, per SFGate. Robert had been "associated with" the property since 1997, which NAC bought it for $1.7 million. Ownership of the home was transferred to Aspetong Partners LP in 2003. Aspetong Partners was associated with his family in Bedford, New York (via Palm Beach Daily News).

Robert Paltrow served time in 2015

In 2015, Paltrow was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to six months in prison — a reality that is played out in the third episode of "WeCrashed," per Vanity Fair. The court also ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine and also sentenced him to one year of supervised release, per the U.S. Department of Justice. Several friends and family members, including Rebekah, reportedly wrote the court on behalf of Robert.

Rebekah's letter suggested her father's bad behavior might have been the result of grief from losing his son, Keith, to cancer in 1989. "I do not know why my father would disrespect the government or act in such an irresponsible and stupid way as to not pay taxes, but I have to imagine, in some way, it was related to the tremendous loss he felt and his wanting to rebel against a larger system of life," she wrote (via Bustle).

Robert Paltrow lives a quiet life

After serving his time, Robert seems to have lived pretty much below the radar. At one time, he used to enjoy driving vintage race cars, per The Cinemaholic. Apparently, he owned at least one of them, too. British Race Car shared an image of the engine of an Elva Mk 7S that reportedly belonged to Robert around 2012. The Elva Mk 7S is somewhat special. It was manufactured in 1965, and according to Concept Carz, only 19 of the cars were ever made. Sports Car Digest also published a snapshot of Robert driving a 1952 Jaguar X120 at the Lime Rock Historic Festival in 2010. That said, there is no information if Robert has driven any vintage race cars recently.

The Cinemaholic reports that the 80 year-old lives on North Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach. Not much more than that is reported about his life these days.