Art market

Douglas Chrismas arrested for allegedly embezzling over $260,000 from Ace Gallery’s bankruptcy estate

Chrismas, who founded the Los Angeles gallery in 1967, is accused of embezzling the funds while acting as the estate’s trustee and custodian

Douglas Christmas Photo by Tonya Wise/Invision/AP

The Los Angeles art dealer Douglas Chrismas has been arrested on federal charges which allege he embezzled over $260,000 from the bankruptcy estate of Ace Gallery, which he founded in 1967. He was fired from the gallery in 2016 following a host of allegedly fraudulent money transfers and complaints by artists that he may have stolen or hidden works of art during the gallery’s 2013 Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

In March, a federal grand jury charged Chrismas with three counts of embezzlement—the indictment was unsealed on 27 July, the day he was arrested.

According to a Justice Department press release, Chrismas allegedly embezzled over $264,000 around March and April 2016, “including a $50,000 check that Chrismas signed, was drawn against the estate and was paid to a separate corporation that Chrismas owned and controlled.”

Other charges allege Chrismas pocketed $100,000, intended for the gallery as payment for works of art, which he diverted to his separate corporation, and nearly $115,000, also meant as payment for work,s which he used to pay a creditor of his separate corporation.

Chrismas has pled not guilty and been released on a $50,000 bond until his trial on 21 September.