Top NYC Gallery Shuttered As Lawsuits Mount

Angered investors, artists accuse owner of 'Ponzi scheme'
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2007 11:20 AM CDT
The original Lute Player by Caravaggio, in St. Petersburg.   (Hermitage)
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(Newser) – Visitors arrived yesterday at New York's Salander-O'Reilly Gallery for a Caravaggio exhibition only to discover the gallery shuttered and the exhibition postponed. In fact, it might never open: Guards were seen carting off dozens of paintings from the gallery's Upper East Side townhouse. Its owner is facing no fewer than 20 lawsuits, alleging everything from unpaid bills to large-scale fraud.

Salander-O'Reilly, one of the city's leading Old Master dealers, collapsed under a mountain of unpaid bills. Consigners haven't been paid, and investors (including John McEnroe) have seen promises broken. The gallery hoped to make good by selling off an alleged Caravaggio for $100 million—even though the painting was originally bought at auction, attributed to "circle of Caravaggio," for $110,000.