Reporting Irene Cornell
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A former New York City art gallery director has been convicted in an art fraud case that brought actor Robert De Niro to the witness stand.
Leigh Morse was found guilty Wednesday of scheming to defraud. WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell reports Morse was acquitted of a more serious charge of grand larceny.
WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell with the details of the case
Morse worked for now-imprisoned gallery owner Lawrence Salander. He pleaded guilty last year to bilking about $120 million from clients, including the estate of De Niro’s artist father.
His Academy Award-winning son testified against Morse last month. She was accused of selling two of the late Robert De Niro Sr.’s abstract paintings for $77,000 without passing on any of it to the famous actor who administers his dad’s estate.
De Niro Sr. was a prominent artist with a myriad of works.
The actor conceded on the witness stand that he didn’t pay much attention to what was happening to his father’s paintings.
“I wasn’t watching as carefully as I probably should have” early in the estate’s involvement with gallery owner Lawrence Salander,” De Niro said. But “I trusted Larry implicitly. I thought that anything that he did, it was going to be good.”
De Niro testified that he is the sole owner of his father’s large art collection and as such is entitled to get paid for the work that is sold.
Morse’s lawyer said she had nothing to do with Salander’s crimes.
The 55-year-old Morse could face up to four years in prison. Her sentencing is June 3.
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