Art Dealer Fraud Case Shows De Niro Slow to Anger; Has He Bought Back the Paintings?

As Runnin' Scared reported yesterday, the Manhattan D.A.'s office has brought a second indictment against alleged art pilferer Lawrence Salander for scamming, among others, actor Robert De Niro.

Some of De Niro's dad's abstract expressionist paintings were on consignment with Salander and were illegally shipped to the Benucci Gallery in Rome in order to satisfy one of the art dealer's many debts. In 2007, lawyers for De Niro announced he was suing Salander for the sneaky maneuver and wanted the paintings returned from Italy.

Back then, the Post reported the star was "raging mad" but these days there seems to be scant record there was any follow-through on the anger. A quick online search of New York court documents shows there are plenty of plaintiffs waiting to get a piece of Salander -- including tennis champ John McEnroe -- but De Niro doesn't appear to be one of them.

Attorney's from the firm the star hired to go after the dealer didn't return phone calls or emails regarding the status of the suit. Stan Rosenfield, De Niro's PR guy, who previously discussed plans for the legal action with reporters, has gone all hush-hush: Asked via email where the lawsuit stands he merely says, "We are not making any comments on this."

So why is there no sign of De Niro vs Salander? It could be the actor dropped the idea of a suit because he now has the paintings. France 24 reported when the whole where-the-hell-are-my-pop's-paintings-thing went down that Ida Bennuci, owner of Benucci galleries, was open to selling De Niro his father's art, depsite the fact that he already owned it, for a "symbolic" price. "I informed him that I was prepared to sell him the paintings, while he said he was willing to offer me the exclusive right to hold exhibits of his father's works," said Bennuci. Way to make a deal.


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