Gallery Worker Not Guilty Of De Niro Art Theft

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April 7, 2011 | 7:30am EST

A gallery worker has been found not guilty of pocketing cash from the sale of artworks by Robert De Niro’s father.
Leigh Morse, 55, was acquitted of a charge of grand larceny at a New York court on Wednesday, relating to the sale of two pictures by the Hollywood actor’s artist father, Robert De Niro, Sr., through the Salander-O’Reilly Galleries.

The Raging Bull star took the stand last month to testify in the case and claimed he never received any cash from Morse for the paintings – despite being entitled to 50 per cent of the proceeds.

Morse was found not guilty on the charge relating to De Niro, but was convicted of plotting a scheme to defraud in the first degree relating to four artists’ estates.

Morse faces up to four years in prison when she is handed her sentence on 3 June.

After the case, one juror spoke out to apologize to De Niro, insisting he wanted to return a guilty verdict but felt under “pressure” to agree with his fellow panel members.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Stanley Cohen says, “Tell De Niro I am sorry, but it was hopeless… The pressure got to be unbearable. It was gruelling. I apologize to Mr. De Niro. I’ll see him in the movies.”

Salander-O’Reilly Galleries boss, Lawrence Salander, 61, pleaded guilty to 28 counts of grand larceny last March. He was subsequently handed a lengthy prison sentence.