Art dealer pleads guilty to duping De Niro, McEnroe among others in $120M fraud case

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London, March 19 (ANI): Lawrence Salander, a New York art dealer, has pleaded guilty to duping tennis star John McEnroe and actor Robert De Niro among others in a nearly 100 million dollars art investment fraud.

The 60-year-old now faces an imprisonment of six to 18 years and will have to recompense 120 million dollars to victims under a plea agreement, wherein he pleaded guilty to 28 counts of grand larceny in state Supreme Court in New York.

He admitted to pulling off a string of tricks including selling off shares of the same artwork to several owners and pocketing the proceeds from sales.

McEnroe lost 2 million dollars after investing in a share of two paintings, Arshile Gorky's "Pirate I and II." According to authorities, the share was simultaneously sold to another collector, and McEnroe never recovered the money.

Prosecutors said numerous paintings by De Niro's father were sold without the actor's permission.

"Lawrence Salander's desire for an extravagant lifestyle turned long-time friends and trusted business colleagues into his personal piggy banks," the Telegraph quoted Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, as saying in a statement.

Salander, the former owner of Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, told the court: "I did everything I have described knowingly and intentionally."

Justice Michael Obus said Salander's sentence would be less than the 25 years in prison under the plea agreement.

Salander will now appear before the court on May 20 for proceedings regarding the restitution.

Some of his other victims included Earl Davis, son of American abstract painter Stuart Davis, who lost 6.7 million dollars and the Bank of America, which lost 2 million dollars after Salander lied about paintings he owned to secure a loan. (ANI)

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