“You talkin’ to me?” — we’re fairly sure actor Robert De Niro would rather not be asking that question, as it relates to an art scam by a New York gallery. Several paintings by actor Robert De Niro’s late father were sold without the actor’s permission, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said on Tuesday. Art dealer Lawrence Salander, 59, was indicted on additional charges for stealing $5 million from several estates on Tuesday after he was arrested in March for orchestrating a sophisticated $88-million art investment scam that also duped former tennis champion John McEnroe and Bank of America.
Salander and other dealers at his New York gallery sold the works by Robert De Niro Sr., an abstract Expressionist painter who died of cancer in 1993 aged 71, and did not pay out the majority of the sales to his estate, according to the charges. As a result of the scam, De Niro Sr.’s estate lost more than $1 million, the DA’s office said.
Robert De Niro, Sr. (1922–1993) was a leading postwar artist whose paintings conjoined modernist abstract and expressionist methods with traditional compositions and subject matter. Part of the famed New York School of the forties and fifties, De Niro, Sr. painted representational subject matter—landscapes, still lifes, and figures—but used these themes primarily as formal constructs for exploring the possibilities inherent in paint, color, and form. De Niro, Sr.’s utilization of action painting and gestural expression places his work within the abstract expressionist discourse but it nonetheless remains firmly grounded in European, specifically French, antecedents.