August 3, 2010 / 7:02 PM / 9 years ago

New York art dealer gets six years prison for fraud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York art dealer who duped collectors including tennis star John McEnroe and actor Robert De Niro out of more than $100 million was sentenced to at least six years in prison on Tuesday.

Lawrence Salander, 61, pleaded guilty in March in New York Supreme Court to an array of schemes, such as selling shares of the same work of art to multiple owners and selling artwork that did not belong to him and pocketing the proceeds.

Salander was sentenced to between six and 18 years in prison and must also pay $120 million in restitution to victims under a plea agreement.

Prosecutors said the Manhattan art dealer sold several paintings by De Niro’s father without the actor’s permission.

The Salander-O’Reilly Gallery closed in 2007, and Salander later filed for bankruptcy, declaring debts of more than $50 million. His collection of European art was auctioned off at Christie’s in June, but netted $2 million, with about a third of the pieces left unsold.

Salander’s attorney, Charles Ross, expressed disappointment about the sentence, but said his client could become eligible for parole in as little as three years.

“He will pay his fines and his debt to society and will go on with his life,” Ross said.

Other victims included Earl Davis, son of American abstract painter Stuart Davis, who lost $6.7 million; Bank of America, which lost $2 million after Salander lied about paintings he owned to secure a loan; and Hester Diamond, the widow of the late New York art dealer Harold Diamond and mother of Beastie Boys’ Mike D, who lost $6 million, authorities said

Reporting by Karina Ioffee; Editing by Michelle Nichols

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