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Artnet News
July 21, 2011 

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DE NIRO DEALER FINED, SENTENCED TO WEEKEND LOCKUP
Former Salander-O’Reilly Gallery director Leigh Morse lucked out when she was sentenced this week in New York State Supreme Court to four months in jail, with time being served over 16 weekends. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of one to three years. Morse was less lucky with her fine of $1.9 million -- prosecutors wanted $9 million in restitution -- especially since she says that her earnings from her current Upper East Side gallery are only about $67,000 a year. The fine breaks down to $1 million for Stuart Davis’ son, Earl Davis; $500,000 for the Lachaise Foundation; $100,000 for the Frelinghuysen Morris Foundation; and $50,000 for sculptor Elie Nadelman.

Morse was convicted in April of one count of “scheming to defraud,” part of a Ponzi-style scheme led by her boss, Lawrence Salander. Morse sold more than 80 works of art for about $5 million without notifying the works’ owners. She was found not guilty on the grand larceny charge involving actor Robert De Niro, who accused her of wiring $65,000 from the sales of two paintings by his father, Robert De Niro Sr., into her personal account instead of to the De Niro estate.

Salander has already pled guilty to 30 counts of fraud and grand larceny and is currently serving his six- to-18-year sentence. The Manhattan dealer used the $100 million he scammed for his own “lavish personal spending,” according to court documents, such as “frequent chartered jet trips to Europe, his purchase of millions and millions of dollars of additional artwork and the rental of a spectacular new gallery space.”

Morse, meanwhile, “was aware of Salander’s directives, and adhered to and promoted them, even while accepting commissions on undisclosed sales,” all of this while using her position as the “primary contact for a number of prominent estates,” prosecutors argued.

ANOTHER GALLERY SHOWS IMAGINARY ARTISTS
Would anybody question whether Kati Schenk’s work has been shown at the Museum of Conceptual Studies in Los Angeles? Or that Arne Arnejorg has a work in the Gwangju Biennale? Or that a man with a name as über-artsy as Arnejorg even exists? Probably not.

But all of these institutions and artists, who are listed as contributors to a group show called “Silver Bullet” at Priska C. Juschka Fine Art in Chelsea, July 14-Aug. 12, 2011, are imaginary. They are the artistic alter egos of Dannielle Tegeder, who organized the show and created all of the works currently attributed to the seven other “artists.” Conveniently, they are all either dead or reside in foreign countries so none of them could make it to the opening.

Why would Tegeder do such a thing? “The show exposes aspects of myself that I perhaps did not know I had as an artist, or as a person,” she said. This gave her the chance to see what kind of work she would produce while acting under the guise of a man or, say, a Romanian poet that escaped Communism.

The works in the show are priced based on the current exchange rate of silver, which is updated daily on the gallery’s website.

What’s even stranger is that fictional artists appear to be something of a trend at the moment. Currently on view at the Carriage Trade gallery, an exhibition of works by a painter called Henry Codax is thought to actually be the brainchild of artists Olivier Mosset and Jacob Kassay.

And then there’s the make-believe African-American artist Donelle Woolford currently showing a wooden structure at Tanya Bonakdar, but who is in fact the nom de plume of Joe Scanlan.

DEALER ROCCO DESIMONE SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS
Settling one of the more bizarre art crime cases of late, former Rhode Island art dealer and prison-breaker Rocco DeSimone was sentenced to 16 years today for a money laundering and mail fraud scheme that netted him $6 million -- all of which he now has to pay back.

One of DeSimone’s bigger offenses was convincing the inventor of Drink Stik, a contraption that links beverage containers to gas masks and respirators worn by soldiers, that he had access to wealthy investors so that the inventor would sell him a stake in the patent. DeSimone then turned around and lied to investors about corporate interest in purchasing the product.

Among the assets the courts are hoping to seize are his collection of ancient Japanese swords, a $180,000 sports car and a 1915 Renoir, Paysage a Cagnes.

BROADER IMPORT OVERSIGHT FOR GREEK ANTIQUITIES
If authorized by the Greek government, a new memorandum signed today by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would tighten import regulations for Greek antiquities headed to the U.S. Under the new measure, works of art could not legally enter the U.S. without the approval of Greek officials, the Art Newspaper reports.  

The memorandum addresses Greece’s problems protecting its antiquities from looting and black-market sales, and its archaeological sites from unlawful excavation. But some critics say the Cultural Property Advisory Committee is already too secretive, and last year the Association of Art Museum Directors called the measure “overly broad.” The organization wants to see stipulations addressing long-term loans.


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