LOS ANGELES — The artwork seller Douglas Chrismas, who has a decades-long observe file of discovering main artists and an equally prolonged historical past of not paying artists in full for his or her gross sales, has been arrested on charges of embezzlement.
Chrismas, 77, surrendered to F.B.I. brokers on Tuesday and was launched on a $50,000 bond. He has pleaded not responsible to the fees, which carry a sentence of as much as 15 years in federal jail. A trial date has been set for Sept. 21.
The indictment, filed on March 16, 2020, was unsealed on Tuesday. In it, Chrismas is accused of redirecting about $265,000 in funds from the chapter property of Ace Gallery, which he opened in Los Angeles in 1967, to a separate company that he owned.
Chrismas’s chapter lawyer, Jonathan Shenson, didn’t reply to requests for remark this week and it was not clear who was representing Chrismas within the prison case.
Chrismas organized essential early exhibitions at his gallery for such artists as Robert Irwin, Michael Heizer, Tim Hawkinson and Mary Corse. However lots of his relationships with artists soured over his lacking funds to them for bought artworks and his failure to return unsold items. The gallery filed for chapter in 2013.
He continued to run the gallery till 2016, when a reorganization plan was accepted by the court docket. A chapter trustee, Sam Leslie, was positioned accountable for the enterprise, which then consisted of a Beverly Hills department and a mid-Wilshire location. (Each areas have since closed.)
Leslie, who has a specialty in forensic accounting, has spent much of his time at Ace sorting via the gallery’s monetary transactions and effective artwork stock to determine who was owed what. In accordance with a report Leslie filed with the court in May 2016, he found that from February 2013 via February 2016, Chrismas had directed about $16.9 million from the Los Angeles enterprise to Ace New York, a short-lived gallery department that had closed years earlier. Of that sum, the report mentioned, about $4.59 million was diverted to an entity referred to as the Ace Museum.
Leslie’s efforts to get well these funds for collectors is ongoing. “The chapter case remains to be open and Sam Leslie remains to be performing as C.E.O.,” his lawyer, Carolyn Dye, mentioned by cellphone Wednesday.
Dye additionally famous that there was a pending civil suit filed by Leslie towards Chrismas and different defendants over “these diversions of money arising from gross sales of stock.”
Requested in regards to the distinction in greenback quantities between the civil and prison circumstances, Dye responded, “You possibly can safely say that the precise prison costs within the indictment have been low-hanging fruit.”
“However along with that,” she added, “the Division of Justice was offered mountains of paperwork that verified the $16-million-plus of money diversions, together with proceeds of gross sales not paid to artists.”