NEW YORK, NY.- Former Manhattan art gallery owner, Lawrence B. Salander, was charged with stealing $88 million US from a client list that included tennis great John McEnroe, hedge-fund chief Roy Lennox, banker Morton Bender, actor Robert DeNiro, merchant banker David Schupak and Earl Davis, the son of painter Stuart Davis, among others. State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus set bail at $1 million. Salander, 59, posted bail today, said Alicia Maxey Greene, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, reported Bloomberg.
"He sold artwork not owned by him and kept the money and lured investment money in fraudulent investment opportunities," Manhattan District Attorney Morgenthau said. Salander used the money to fund "an extravagant lifestyle" of lavish parties and private jets, he said.
Defense attorney Charles Ross said his client "pleaded not guilty to every charge" and that he would "vigorously defend against every allegation in court."
Morgenthau said Salander defrauded a total of 26 victims in two forms:
In the first, he sold works of art that were not his and kept the money. The district attorney also stated that Salander often sold the same work of art to several people.
"Why sell it just once when you can sell it three times?" Morgenthau said.
The other form, Morgenthau said, Salander lured investors into bogus or nonexistent "ghost" investment opportunities. He said this was the scheme Salander used to bilk McEnroe out of more than $2 million, reported the Associated Press.