US art dealer jailed in celebrity investor scam

New York: A US judge on Tuesday sentenced a New York art dealer to up to 18 years prison and a hefty fine for stealing 120 million dollars from big-name investors, including American tennis star John McEnroe.

Lawrence Salander, 61, admitted in March to cheating his clients between 2004 and 2007 by selling art that he did not own, or convincing them to invest in fraudulent schemes, the Manhattan district attorney said in a statement.

One of the victims was Hollywood actor Robert De Niro`s father.

With the profits Salander bought a luxurious Manhattan residence and a private airplane.

Salander and his gallery will also "be responsible for paying approximately 120 million dollars in restitution to the 30 victims," the statement read.

The judge sentenced Salander to between six and 18 years prison, with the time spent in prison dependant on good behavior.

McEnroe lost two million dollars when he bought what Salander fraudulently claimed were two pieces by Arshile Gorky, a US artist of Armenian origin.

Salander`s "widespread fraud and calculated betrayal created ripples that spread from individual victims to the broader art world," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

Bureau Report

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