No one is looking good in the trial of Leigh Morse, the former Salander gallery director accused of pocketing the proceeds of a sale to pay herself back commissions. Bloomberg’s resident Salander expert, Philip Boroff, reveals the way the Salander gallery worked in his coverage:
Salander was a “screamer” and “cruel and terrifying” to his 30 employees, Lankler said. He “zealously guarded” his relationships with the artist heirs, Lankler said.
Among the gallery’s clients were the estate of Robert De Niro Sr., a painter who died in 1993 and was the actor’s father. In May 2007, with the gallery deep in debt partly because of what Kern called Salander’s “almost messianic devotion” to acquiring Renaissance art by the planeload, Morse sold three De Niro Sr. paintings to San Francisco’s Hackett-Freedman Gallery for $77,000.
Two works were owned by the actor, according to court papers. The $77,000 was wired to Morse’s personal bank account. The prosecution said she orchestrated the sale and kept proceeds without De Niro’s knowledge and was entitled only to a fraction of the sum as a commission.
Lankler said Morse was victimized by the gallery herself and was owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. She had received back commissions directly from sales proceeds before, he said.
For the prosecution to prove grand larceny, “she would have to know that Larry in his head would never, ever pay Robert De Niro,” Lankler said.