NEW YORK—On July 14, former Salander-O’Reilly Galleries owner Lawrence Salander was arrested and indicted for a second time by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. The district attorney also announced the arrest and indictment of Salander’s former gallery director Leigh Morse on charges of “stealing from and defrauding consigners of art.”
The new charges against Salander involve the theft of more than $5million from several artist estates, including those of Robert de Niro Sr., father of actor Robert de Niro; Gaston Lachaise, via the Lachaise Foundation; and Elie Nadelman.
Salander had previously been arrested in March, when he was indicted on 100 counts of grand larceny, scheming to defraud, securities fraud, perjury and falsifying business records. At that time he was accused of stealing $88million from investors, art owners and a bank, according to the district attorney’s office. The dealer pled not guilty to the charges, and is free on $1million bail. No new bail was set at the latest arraignment.
“There is much more to this case than meets the eye,” Salander’s attorney Charles Ross told ARTnewsletter. “Mr. Salander has once again entered not guilty pleas. We look forward to our day in court. I’m confident that when all the evidence is presented, he will be completely exonerated.”
Morse was released on a $75,000 bond. According to the indictment, from 1995 until late 2007, when the gallery was shuttered by court order as legal claims mounted (ANL, 10/30/07), Morse repeatedly “violated both the trust and the agency relationship” in her dealings with several artists’ estates, including those mentioned above. In one case, Morse allegedly sold two works by de Niro Sr. and, with Salander’s permission, arranged for the “entire purchase price of $77,000 to be wired directly from the purchaser into her bank account,” rather than the fraction she was entitled to as her commission. If convicted, Morse faces up to 11 years in prison. Her attorney, Andrew Lankler, declined to comment to ARTnewsletter.