Celebrity Art Dealer Pleads Guilty To Scam
A New York art dealer who conned clients including acting legend ROBERT DE NIRO and tennis star JOHN MCENROE is facing up to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to masterminding a $100 million (£62.5 million) investment scam.
Lawrence Salander, 60, confessed to selling shares of the same artwork to multiple art lovers and pleaded guilty to 28 counts of grand larceny in New York's state Supreme Court on Thursday (18Mar10).
Retired sportsman MCEnroe lost $2 million (£1.25 million) in the con after investing in Arshile Gorky's Pirate I and II paintings, while several creations by De Niro's late father, Robert De Niro, Sr., were sold by executives at Salander-O'Reilly Galleries without the Taxi Driver star's permission.
The mother of Beastie Boys star Mike D also fell victim to the scam, costing her $6 million (£3.75 million).
Salander struck a plea deal with prosecutors which will see him serve a lesser sentence of between six to 18 years and pay $120 million (£75 million) in restitution to his victims.
Without the plea agreement, he faced 25 years behind bars if convicted. He is due back in court on 20 May (10).
De Niro managed to reclaim some of his dad's artwork earlier this week (begs15Mar10) after brokering a deal with the administrators of the now-bankrupt Big Apple gallery.