A painting attributed to Sandro Botticelli and valued at $9.5 million may be sold in order to pay some creditors of Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, which declared bankruptcy over four years ago in New York’s biggest-ever art fraud.
Although a consignor still owns “Madonna and Child” (circa 1500), a New York judge has ruled that state law may allow the gallery to sell it to benefit creditors.
Hundreds of creditors, including actor Robert de Niro and tennis star John McEnroe, who were defrauded in Salander's Ponzi scheme are still awaiting payment. Most are not expecting much even with 4,000 artworks in storage to be sold.
Art dealer Lawrence Salander is serving 6 to 18 years in prison for stealing $100 million from consignors and investors.
He was sentenced in 2010 for failing to pay consignors when their artworks sold and peddling half-shares in artworks multiple times.
The Botticelli is owned by a family trust, Kraken Investments, based in the Channel Islands. The work was supposed to be part of Salander's over-reaching exhibition “Masterpieces of Art: Five Centuries of Painting and Sculpture,” but the gallery closed before the show opening in October 2007.