The owner of a shuttered Upper East Side art gallery is facing a new round of charges for stealing $5 million from the estates of his high profile clients -- including actor Robert De Niro's painter father -- prosecutors said today.
The new indictment accuses Lawrence B. Salander, 60, and Salander-O'Reilly Galleries with grand larceny and falsifying business records in an effort to defraud clients, among them American abstract expressionist painter Robert De Niro Sr.
In March, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau indicted Salander on similar charges, accusing him of defrauding art owners and investorsm, including tennis great John McEnroe and DeNiro Sr., of $88 million in a scam that prosecutors said stretched over 13 years.
Salander, who livesin Millbrook, N.Y., ran an art ponzi scheme -- borrowing money and leveraging clients' artwork to expand his operation, prosecutors said. His brush with the law came when he fell behind on payments. That brought the artful dodge to the attention of hundreds of clients and law enforcement, prosecutors said.
Salander and his gallery filed for bankruptcy in November 2007 after being sued by hundreds of clients including McEnroe and Arthur Carter, the former publisher of the New York Observer. Creditors claim that Salander owes them about $500 million.
The gallery was padlocked by court order in October 2007. The order also barred the removal of any art from the townhouse off Madison Avenue that Salander rented for about $154,000 a month.
Salander, his wife Julie and their seven children lived a few blocks north in a six-story, 9,000-square-foot townhouse. He traveled the U.S. and Europe on a private plane, searching for Renaissance art he believed he could sell for a profit, court records said.