John McEnroe Loses $2M In New York Art Scam

We can only imagine that John McEnroe had a hard time believing the caller on the other end of the line was serious earlier this week. Why? Not just for punchlines. This call brought word that his investment in a New York art gallery was at the center of a fraud investigation.

louis salander art fraud

(The man who scammed McEnroe & others)

According to REUTERS, McEnroe is among a handful of victims taken for a ride by 59-year-old art dealer Lawrence Salander who has been charged with an even 100 charges of grand larceny and securities fraud. Somewhat ironically, McEnroe was invested in two paintings called “Pirate I” and “Pirate II”, all while the man who convinced him to invest was a bit of a pirate himself.

Evidently, McEnroe lost his investment when the 50-percent inflated share in the paintings was flipped and re-sold to another investor at the same time, a violation he was alerted to himself before the charges were brought against Salander.

gorsky's pirate I

(One of the two “Pirate” paintings McEnroe thought he owned a share of)

Essentially, Salander’s scam was an art world version of Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme. Salander would acquire paintings for his gallery via loan or some other agreement, then would convince people to invest in them, passing them off as his own. Evidently he was a convincing con man, because he took sophisticated clients for some $88 million in the scheme, $45 million from one art investment firm (Renaissance Art Investors) alone.

And what did Salander do with all the cash? Hey, what would you do? He blew it on “lavish parties” and “an extravagant lifestyle that included charter flights.” Sounds like a good life, huh?

Other victims in Salander’s fraud included Bank of America and Hester Diamond, the mother of Beastie Boy Mike D, who was taken for a grand total of some $6 million. McEnroe supposedly never recouped any of his lost investment.

McEnroe didn’t have any response when reached for comment, but we imagine he’ll fume as soon as he returns from his “vacation.” He’ll have plenty of time to plot a strategy to get back at Salander; The alleged art dealer faces 25 years in jail based on the heaviest charge alone.