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Indicted New York art dealer faces more fraud charges

  • Story Highlights
  • Lawrence Salander was indicted for allegedly defrauding clients for $5 million
  • Salander was indicted earlier on similar charges
  • New indictment lists actor Robert DeNiro's father as fraud victim
From Edmund DeMarche
CNN
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A former New York City art gallery owner already facing a 100-count indictment was indicted again Tuesday for allegedly defrauding his clients for $5 million, the Manhattan District Attorney's office said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Lawrence Salander, the former owner of Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, defrauded his clients, many of whom were close friends, in what will turn out to be a scheme amounting to more than $100 million. The alleged crimes charged in Tuesday's indictment occurred between October 1997 and November 2007.

In March, Salander and his gallery received a 100-count indictment charging grand larceny, securities fraud, criminal possession of a forged instrument, falsifying business records and perjury. The March indictment accused Salander of defrauding art owners and investors, including tennis player John McEnroe, of a total of $88 million.

The new indictment lists the estate of Robert DeNiro Sr., the deceased father of actor Robert DeNiro Jr. and an American abstract expressionist painter, as one of the victims of the fraud.

According to the district attorney's office, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries was made the exclusive representative of the late artist's estate in 1994.

During the relationship, which spanned 14 years, Salander and other dealers from his company sold the elder DeNiro's works and did not inform the estate about the amount the pieces were sold for, prosecutors said. In turn, the gallery used the money to pay off gallery debts, according to prosecutors.

Charles A. Ross, Salander's attorney, told CNN, "We look forward to our day in court. My client will be completely vindicated."

In its statement Tuesday, the district attorney's office said Salander apparently used stolen funds for two primary purposes: to finance his goal of cornering the market in Renaissance Art, and to support an extravagant lifestyle that included travel by private jet within the United States and Europe, a lavish party for his wife at the Frick Collection and the purchase and maintenance of a Manhattan townhouse and a 66-acre estate in Millbrook, New York.

The indictment Tuesday against Salander included three counts of grand larceny and one count falsifying business records.

Leigh Morse, the former director of sales from the gallery, was also indicted Tuesday in connection with the alleged fraud, according to the district attorney's office. Morse was charged with one count of grand larceny and one count of scheming to defraud.

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