News & Politics

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

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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.