Leigh Morse, 55, disgraced director of the Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, was convicted yesterday of scheming to defraud four clients of $5 million worth of artwork, but was exonerated on the grand-larceny charge in connection with the estate of Robert De Niro Sr., the father of the actor.
“The defendant, together with her accomplice, convicted art-gallery owner Lawrence Salander, systematically looted the estates of her clients over the period of many years,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “Because the art industry is largely unregulated, it is particularly important to hold accountable those who fraudulently handle works of art entrusted to them.”
A dapper Robert De Niro told jurors that he wasn’t paid for the sale of paintings by his late father, who died in 1993. The defense argued that Morse believed Salander had paid De Niro.
Morse faces up to four years in prison when she is sentenced on June 3.