Robert De Niro, Jr. won an ownership dispute over six works of art by his father Robert De Niro, Sr. The infamous Salander-O’Reilly Galleries LLC had contested his claims on the artwork but a bankruptcy judge found in favor of De Niro, Jr. The artists’ son was determined to be the sole heir to the artwork and was allowed to take it home as long as he paid the gallery the sum of $14,000.
The De Niros were only two of the hundreds of people involved in a major scandal which lead to Salander-O’Reilly to declare bankruptcy in 2007. Earlier this year, the owner of Salander-O’Reilly, Lawrence B. Salander was charged with 103 counts of fraud, forgery and other crimes. More than 400 people have filed to have both money and art returned. According to the New York Times, the fraud scheme entangled many prominent people, including tennis star John McEnroe, hedge fund manager Roy Lennox, and Earl Davis, the son of the painter Stuart Davis. Yesterday, the art dealer pleaded guilty to a $120 million fraud scheme.
The elder De Niro passed away from cancer in 1993. He was a major player in New York’s mid-century art scene having studied under Hans Hoffman and counted artistic titans such at DeKooning and Jackson Pollock as his contemporaries. His work hangs on the walls of the Metropolitan Museum and the Smithsonian.
Obviously Salander’s got some salt because he’s already been found liable for filching millions of dollars from artists, collectors and investors but honestly, De Niro? You’re going to tangle with Robert De Niro about ownership rights over his father’s artwork? Have you never seen a movie, Sir? This man has played a mobster or a supposed mobster in about 100 movies. He was in both Heat and Casino which count among the most bad-ass one-named movies in history. Three words: The Deer Hunter. It doesn’t matter if he’s an actor playing these roles. If he wants his dad’s artwork, he gets his dad’s artwork. No. Questions. Asked.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.