A former Manhattan art gallery owner has been charged with stealing $88 million US from his star-studded client list, investors and a bank.
Lawrence B. Salander was arrested and arraigned in Manhattan's state Supreme Court on Thursday. His 100-count indictment includes charges of grand larceny, securities fraud and forgery. Salander, who was held on $1 million US bail, is set to return to court on April 8.
The district attorney's office accuses Salander of defrauding his victims to support a lavish lifestyle for himself and his family, as well as to gain a hold on the Renaissance art market. The Salander-O'Reilly Galleries has since closed.
According to Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau, Salander primarily used two methods: selling artwork he didn't own and retaining the funds, sometimes selling a single piece of art several times over, and luring investors — including tennis star John McEnroe — into bogus or nonexistent ventures.
Defence attorney Charles Ross said his client "pleaded not guilty to every charge" and that he would "vigorously defend against every allegation in court."
Federal officials have seized about 4,000 artworks from Salander's galleries since the criminal investigation began in October 2007.