Lawrence Salander, former art-dealing titan and a visionary for the Old Masters market, was arrested at his home this morning in Millbrook, NY. His indictment was formally announced thereafter by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Mr. Salander faces a staggering 100 counts of charges ranging from grand larceny, forgery, perjury, and scheming to defraud.
It’s a tough time to be accused of running a Ponzi scheme. This latest step in Salander’s demise will most likely be the most trumpeted. He will step into a surging maelstrom of public opinion that has rained down on the culprits of America’s age of excess.
In OMNP’s opinion however, Salander cannot be likened to the Bernard Madoffs or AIG executives of the world. His condemnation cannot be pinned primarily on greed or entitlement. Rather, it should be tempered through an understanding of the man’s passion for great art. His business collapsed under the weight of previous success and overzealous ambition.
Salander’s coup-de grace was the gallery’s foray into the Old Masters market. While he had the insight to see how undervalued such artwork was, his business plan proved to be a failure. Overhead costs were simply not diligently accounted for. Most visibly of these were the massive sum of obtaining such an extensive inventory, and the cost of leasing a palatial townhouse on 71st street to showcase Old Masters, in addition to maintaining a 79th street space for the gallery’s Modern and Contemporary stable.
As collecting interest begins to turn back to Old Masters, however, Salander can be seen as a pioneering dealer that jumped the gun. He may not have been able to predict his own fate, but he certainly understood where the market was headed.