Former New York Arts Club President Agrees to Pay Nearly $1M for Using the Club as a Personal Checking Account


At a time when the National Endowment for the Arts has had so much downward pressure on its funding that Kickstarter has become a better source of funding for creative projects, people grifting our local cultural institutions should piss us the hell off. Yesterday, the New York state attorney general announced a settlement with Aldon James, former president of the National Arts Club here in New York City, to repay $900,000 in misused funds to the club and $50,000 for wasting everybody else’s time.

James, his twin brother, John, and colleague Steven Leitner had been using the club’s properties as their own without paying rent, using $274,000 earmarked for dramatic arts grants on renovating the club’s building, and hording antiques and vintage wares bought during shopping sprees on the club’s dime.

The National Arts Club, around since 1898, booted the Aldons and Leitner from their club-owned apartments last month. James was removed from the presidency two years ago, when allegations of impropriety first surfaced. He’d served as president since 1985.

To make sure that the three men get the point, the A.G. has banned them from the club and from every holding office in a New York state nonprofit ever again.