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Art Dealer Who Scammed Mike Ovitz Sentenced to Six Months in Jail

Variety logo Variety 5/23/2017 Gene Maddaus
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A former art dealer who pleaded no contest to ripping off Michael Ovitz was sentenced Monday to six months in jail.

Perry Rubenstein, 63, surrendered to custody and will serve his sentence in the Seal Beach city jail — a “pay to stay” facility where inmates spend $100 a night to stay in relative comfort.

Rubenstein also turned over a cashier’s check in the amount of $167,500 to the family of art collector Michael Salke, the other victim in the case.

“Perry Rubenstein was basically robbing from Peter to pay Paul,” said prosecutor Marisa Zarate. “It was a Ponzi-like scheme… Eventually you run out of fresh money and it collapses on you.”

Zarate said that Rubenstein will serve the full six months in the private facility. Had he been sentenced to county jail or state prison, he would have served only a portion of the sentence.

Ovitz sued Rubenstein in 2013, alleging he did not receive the proceeds from the sale of two Richard Prince works, “Nobody’s Home” and “Untitled (de Kooning),” which he had placed on consignment. Rubenstein’s gallery later filed for bankruptcy.

In a legal settlement last year, Rubenstein agreed to return “Untitled (de Kooning)” to Ovitz. Ovitz also received $1.6 million from his insurer for the loss of “Nobody’s Home.”

As part of the criminal case, Rubenstein was ordered to pay $975,000 to the Ovitz family trust. However, given the bankruptcy case, it appears unlikely he will be able to collect.

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