Leigh Morse, the former director of New York’s Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, has been sentenced for her role in the Ponzi scheme that brought down the Upper East Side gallery. According to Bloomberg, she will serve weekends in prison for four months, pay back $1.65 million to the estates of artists she defrauded, and will be on probation for five years. Her first weekend begins Aug. 6.
Morse, 55, was found guilty in New York State Supreme Court on one count of scheming to defraud but was let off the hook on grand larceny charges that involved swindling $65,000 from the estate of Robert de Niro, Sr. Morse was accused of withholding information of sales from consignors to avoid making payments to them.
She was found to have sold over 80 artworks, valued at $5 million, from four estates-including those of Stuart Davis, Gaston Lachaise and Elie Nadelman—according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., without notifying or compensating the estates. She had been facing a stiffer sentence of one to three years in prison and $9.1 million in restitution.
Morse left Salander-O’Reilly in 2007, the year the gallery filed for bankruptcy, to open Leigh Morse Fine Arts.
Lawrence Salander, the gallery’s president, is serving 6 to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to 30 counts of fraud and grand larceny in 2010.
Above: Leigh Morse, right, leaves New York Supreme Court with her lawyer Andrew Lankler, on March 18.