March 18th, 2010
07:40 PM ET

Art dealer pleads guilty to $120 million fraud

A former New York City art gallery owner pleaded guilty Thursday to 29 counts of grand larceny and defrauding clients of about $120 million, according to the New York District Attorney's Office.

"I am deeply sorry for my actions," Lawrence B. Salander, former owner of Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, told the court. "I am ashamed to have caused such harm to good friends and trusted business associates."

Salander's 29 victims, according to court documents, include tennis star John McEnroe and Robert DeNiro Sr., the actor's father.

Salander, 60, admitted to defrauding his clients, many of whom were close friends, for approximately $120 million in a scheme that lasted just over two years and ended in November 2007.

The money financed a luxurious lifestyle, with lavish parties and frequent trips to Europe in a private jet.

In addition to the 29 counts of grand larceny in varying degrees, Salander also pleaded guilty to one count of scheming to defraud in the first degree. Judge Michael J. Obus said the agreed-upon sentence will be no greater than 18 years in prison.

The case will be adjourned until May 20, when the court considers how much restitution Salander was able to raise for his victims. "It is a sad day for Mr. Salander," said Charles A. Ross, his attorney.

"It is, however, a good result for him and for those whom he is deeply remorseful about hurting. We are sincerely hopeful he will raise meaningful restoration payments."

Salander incorporated two primary ways of stealing, according to the district attorney's office: He sold artwork not owned by him and kept the money, and lured investment money in fraudulent investment opportunities.

Salander admitted in court that in one instance, to secure a $2 million personal loan from Bank of America, he offered pieces owned by others, including McEnroe, as security by providing phony documents to make it appear that he and his wife owned the art.

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  1. margaret hasshaw

    Why are these crooks so deeply sorry AFTER they
    are caught? Enough said.

    March 18, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |