News & Politics

Robert De Niro Gets (Some of) Dad’s Paintings Back from Art Scamster; Other Creditors Get Auction


You may remember that last year, art dealer Lawrence Salander was indicted for scamming a lot of rich and famous people out of tens of millions of dollars — including Robert De Niro, whose father’s paintings, it was alleged, Salander sold without permission and without paying the actor his cut.

The Manhattan D.A. pursued the case more aggressively than De Niro seemed to, which suggested to our own Rend Smith that maybe De Niro had made a deal to get the paintings back.

If he didn’t then, he has now — De Niro has paid $14,000 to get back six of his father’s paintings that were in a bankruptcy court’s custody.

Despite his alleged habit of handling high-ticket artworks for celebs like John McEnroe and keeping all the money for himself, Salander’s gallery went bankrupt in 2007; part of De Niro’s problem had been that, though the paintings were his rightful inheritance from his father, they were also assigned for sale to Salander, and were thus considered assets in the bankruptcy that could be auctioned to pay off creditors.

De Niro finally hammered out the $14,000 arrangement for the six remaining paintings from an original lot of 12 assigned to Salander. (The other six are presumed sold and their profits absconded with.) De Niro could be said to have gotten a deal, as the 12 paintings together were said to be worth at least $1 million.

Of course it seems like less of a deal when you consider that De Niro never got the money from the other paintings. That happened to a lot of people: 400 investors and clients of Salander are wrangling over about $90 million they claim Salander ripped them off for.

The auctions are expected to start in June. First Republic Bank, a secured creditor of Salander’s, demanded to be paid before the unsecured creditors, but some of those creditors threatened a lawsuit, claiming First Republic lent to Salander while aware he was mismanaging his funds — a charge that would be a very serious crime if proven, and detrimental to First Republic’s reputation even if not. The unsecured creditors will get the first $2.5 million raised, which the bank, which lent Salander $59 million, will be paid according to what Bloomberg News calls “a complex formula.”


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