Former Arts Patron Alberto Vilar Convicted On 12 Counts of Fraud

In a story encompassing the increasingly dreary art, society, and financial worlds, The New York Times reports that Alberto W. Vilar has been convicted of 12 counts of securities fraud. Mr. Vilar, a 67-year-old Cuban immigrant, was charged along with his Amerindo Investment Advisors Inc. partner, Gary A. Tanaka, who was only convicted on three of the counts. The two men were in trouble for putting clients’ money in unstable technology stocks, as opposed to the more reliable investments they’d claimed to be making. After a series of bad decisions and a market plunge in 2000, the pair switched to fraud, depositing millions of client money into their personal accounts.

Other victims included a wide array of philanthropic institutions to which Mr. Vilar had promised—but not yet delivered—money, including the Metropolitan Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, the Washington National Opera, the Royal Opera in London, and the Salzburg Festival, not to mention Columbia, NYU, and Washington & Jefferson College (Mr. Vilar’s alma mater).

Prior to the trial, Mr. Vilar complained that the prosecution had targeted him because of his prominence as a benefactor. Additionally, “many of his professed friends in the cultural world melted away after his troubles became public,” an unsurprising development that left him “bitter.” 

Mr. Vilar’s lawyer plans to appeal, but he will likely be forced to give up his United Nations Plaza condo, decorated with a “larger-than-life-size bronze statue of a young Mozart, gold brocade drapes, marble floor and Steinway grand piano,” for the more subtly appointed quarters awarded to those with prison terms. 

Former Arts Patron Alberto Vilar Convicted On 12 Counts of Fraud