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Lawrence Salander Begins Selloff of Artwork to Help Pay For $120 Million Fraud Scheme

By DNAinfo Staff on May 12, 2010 6:42am  | Updated on May 12, 2010 7:14am

By Della Hasselle

Special to DNAinfo

MANHATTAN — The man who ripped off Robert De Niro's father's estate had a taste for Asian art and antique furniture.

Lawrence Salander, the bankrupt art dealer who swindled clients such as De Niro and tennis legend John McEnroe, sent nearly 250 items to the auction block last weekend to help with the $120 million he was ordered to repay after pleading guilty to grand larceny and fraud challenges in Manhattan back in March.

Art buyers snapped up carved Chinese hardwood tables, Japanese porcelain, sandstone Buddha carvings from Thailand and more than 60 rugs and carpets at Sunday's auction at Stair Galleries upstate in Hudson, N.Y.

“Larry Salander was very well-known and respected in New York amongst many circles,” Hudson art dealer Richard Eagon, who attended the antique sale, said. “But he was a megalomaniac when it came to purchasing works of art.”

Lawrence Salander swindled clients such as Robert De Niro and John McEnroe.
Lawrence Salander swindled clients such as Robert De Niro and John McEnroe.
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Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Stair Galleries said the sales were very good, especially in this economy‚ and the auction pulled in $427,067.

“There were only two lots that didn’t sell,” gallery employee Ashley Cleinman said. Those items included two blue and white pottery bowls, estimated between $500-700, and a piece of porcelain, estimated between $150-250.

But for the most part, the items sold well above the listed price. For example, a Tekke Turcoman carpet that had a low estimate of $250 sold for $8,000, and a Kazak designed rug, which had a low estimate of $300, sold for $6,000.

Thomas Genova, a lawyer who is the trustee overseeing Salander’s personal bankruptcy, did not return calls for comment.

The collection shown at Stair Galleries, however, was a good indication of the kind of art dealer Salander was, auction house president Colin Stair said.

“He was highly eclectic,” Stair said. “If I had to say, it was like a forced curated look — he had chairs from 1810 from cabinet maker Duncan Fief, 18th century Dutch plates, late 18th century porcelain,” Stair said. “It was like he plucked the best from society.”

Another collection from his 66-acre apartment in Millbrook, N.Y., will be sold at the gallery on July 24th, Stair said. He expects to repeat the success of Sunday's sale.

“People hear bankruptcy auction, and it's like putting blood in the water,” Stair said.