Ace Gallery founder arrested on embezzlement expenses

Art dealer and founder of Ace Gallery, Douglas J. Chrismas, was arrested Tuesday on rates that he embezzled more than $260,000 from the now-shut gallery’s personal bankruptcy estate. The 77-yr-previous surrendered devoid of incident to federal brokers and was purchased released on a $50,000 bond.

A demo date has been set for Sept. 21, the U.S. Attorney’s Workplace for the Central District of California explained in a information release. Chrismas pleaded not guilty.

This is the most up-to-date in a prolonged string of legal troubles and controversies Chrismas has been embroiled in due to the fact founding the gallery in the 1960s. When identified for championing pioneering artists and sculptors this kind of as Robert Irwin, Michael Heizer, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman and Sam Francis, Chrismas early on earned a name for shady business enterprise dealings together with not spending artists, dealers, collectors and landlords.

In 1986, Chrismas was jailed for allegedly defrauding a Canadian collector of $1.2 million in artworks by up to date artists such as Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. He was introduced on bail and requested to appear at a preliminary hearing on seven counts of grand theft. The gallery submitted for individual bankruptcy additional than fifty percent a dozen occasions above the many years in purchase to defend itself from collectors.

In 2013, Chrismas filed for bankruptcy for the last time following not paying out hire on the gallery’s 30,000-square-foot flagship spot on the 2nd floor of the Wilshire Tower in the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles. In the course of this time a variety of artists, together with Mary Corse, filed motions in search of the return of their art from the gallery.

3 yrs afterwards, soon after failing to make a $17.5 million courtroom-requested payment to settle his Chapter 11 money owed, Chrismas was terminated from all gallery operations. A individual bankruptcy trustee and forensic accountant, Sam Leslie, took over administration of the space and submitted a prolonged status report with the courtroom documenting money irregularities by Chrismas following individual bankruptcy papers were submitted.

Concerning February 2013 and April 2016, when Ace was likely by means of its closing Chapter 11 proceedings, Chrismas remained the gallery’s president, trustee and custodian and oversaw all operations. This job also gave him accessibility to the gallery’s assets.

The new rates, which ended up investigated by the FBI’s art criminal offense group, allege that in late March and early April of 2016, Chrismas embezzled approximately $264,595 that belonged to the Ace Gallery personal bankruptcy estate.

Chrismas allegedly embezzled $100,000 that was owed to the gallery by a 3rd celebration for the acquire of artwork but instead, at Chrismas’ direction, was paid to a independent company that he owned and controlled. In addition, Chrismas allegedly compensated a creditor of his corporation with approximately $114,595 that he embezzled from money owed to the gallery by a 3rd celebration that bought artwork.

Chrismas would facial area a statutory utmost sentence of 15 yrs in federal prison if convicted of all expenses.