Problems Mount for New York Art Dealer

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Embattled art dealer Lawrence Salander was arrested for the second time on charges of carrying out an art fraud that now totals $93 million, state prosecutors said. Robert De Niro was one of the victims, according to the latest complaint in New York County Court.

     Salander, 60, was free on $1 million bail after being arrested in March and charged with orchestrating an $88 million scam that also duped Bank of America. He’s already facing a 100-count indictment accusing him of stealing from artists, investors and art owners.
     The second indictment charges him with stealing $5 million from numerous estates.
     Salander repeatedly sold artwork by Robert De Niro Sr., an abstract expressionist painter, and rarely notified or paid his estate, including his son, the Oscar-winning actor, prosecutors said. The De Niro estate lost more than $1 million, the District Attorney’s Office said.
     Salander allegedly used the money to pay off the gallery’s debts. Salander sold several paintings owned by the De Niros to a gallery in Italy to satisfy a multimillion debt, according to the DA’s office.
     The new indictment added former gallery director Leigh Mores as a defendant, on charges of scheming to defraud. As the primary contact, Mores allegedly “earned the trust of estates that turned over possession of their inherited art to the gallery to exhibit and sell.”
     She allegedly failed to disclose the status of numerous consigned works.
     Mores sold two works by De Niro Sr., directing the buyer to wire the $77,000 directly to her personal bank account, according to prosecutors.
     The Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, on East 71st Street, closed its doors in 2007 amid a slew of lawsuits. Salander filed for bankruptcy a month later, listing $50 million to $100 million in disputed debts.
     The alleged scam occurred between 1997 and 2007, prosecutors said.
     Other alleged victims include the Lachaise Foundation, which lost $2.8 million after consigning works of Gaston Lachaise, a French-born American sculptor known for his innovative nudes, and the estate of Polish-born American sculptor Elie Nadelman, which lost more than $1 million.
     Tennis great John McEnroe was previously named as a Salander victim. McEnroe filed a civil suit against art dealer in May, accusing him of refusing to return a consigned painting and selling it without his consent.
     Salander faces three additional counts of grand larceny and one count of falsifying business records. Together they carry a sentence of up to 29 years in prison.
     Mores was charged with one count of grand larceny and one count of scheming to defraud. She faces up to 11 years if convicted of both charges.
     District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said in March that Salander used the stolen money in an effort to “corner the Renaissance art market and to support an ostentatious lifestyle.”
     “Salander built an empire based on illusion and manipulation of those who trusted him,” Morgenthau said.
     Since posting bail, Salander has been working at a new art gallery near his 66-acre estate in Millbrook, N.Y.
     Luxury lifestyle magazine the Robb Report named Salander-O’Reilly the best gallery in the world in 2003.

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