A Manhattan jury today found former Salander-O’Reilly Gallery director Leigh Morse guilty on one count of scheming to defraud, a charge that related to her conduct while she worked for Larry Salander’s once-prestigeous gallery, which routinely sold paintings without telling their owners. The jury acquitted Ms. Morse of a second charge, grand larcency, that accused her of pilfering $65,000 from Robert De Niro, whose father’s estate was run through the gallery and who testified against Ms. Morse, causing considerable hullaballo at the otherwise sleepy trial.
I wrote about the fallout from the Salander case a few weeks ago, and while I didn’t attend every hearing in this trial, I did hear Mr. De Niro’s testimony. One thing I didn’t mention in my article is that it might have actually worked in Ms. Morse’s favor. Mr. De Niro was an extremely sympathetic witness — there was definitely some swooning in the gallery — but when he was asked by the prosecution about whether or not he definitely wasn’t told about the sale of his father’s paintings, Mr. De Niro replied that he couldn’t say. Not for sure.
Who knows what the jury was thinking during its delibarations, but that’s a little reasonably doubty, no?