Dealer Perry Rubenstein cuts plea bargain, will serve jail time

He has been sentenced to 180 days in a private facility, and three years of formal probation


The art dealer Perry Rubenstein pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft by embezzlement in a Los Angeles County court on 23 March, a deal that led to the dismissal of other ancillary charges, and his receiving, on 22 May, a sentence of 180 days in a private jail facility, and three years of formal probation. Rubenstein also paid $1,142,500 in restitution to two of his victims, Michael Ovitz and Michael Salke.

The criminal charges related to Rubenstein's bankruptcy, declared in 2014. Rubenstein had a successful career as a dealer in New York but, as his financial records now show, he got in over his head shortly after moving his eponymous gallery to Los Angeles in 2012.

The collector and entertainment executive Michael Ovitz was among those seeking money from Rubenstein after he failed to turn over the proceeds from the sale of two Richard Prince works for $975,000. Rubenstein and Ovitz settled in March 2016, but Rubenstein was arrested in relation to the Ovitz dealings one month later on charges that he had stolen the Prince paintings, as the collector reported on insurance claims seeking $4.1m.

Beginning in 2012, Rubenstein was the intermediary in the sale of a Takashi Murakami scroll painting from the collection of Michael Salke. The Broad Foundation bought the work for $825,000, but Rubenstein did not turn over all the proceeds to Salke.