LA Dealer Perry Rubenstein Arrested After Deals With Eli Broad, Michael Ovitz Go Sour

The arrest follows lawsuits and a bankruptcy filing.

Perry Rubenstein at a 2010 gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo: courtesy Patrick McMullan Co.
Perry Rubenstein at a 2010 gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo: courtesy Patrick McMullan Co.

Perry Rubenstein’s fortunes have gone from bad to worse. The Los Angeles dealer was arrested on charges of fraud on April 21, with a legal complaint requesting he be held on $1 million bail.

“We deny all these allegations and look forward to clearing his name and getting his reputation back,” his lawyer, Stephen Sitkoff, told the Los Angeles Times, which had the story. “There’s no criminal conduct on Perry’s part.”

Art collector Michael Salke claims that Rubenstein defrauded him after they signed a contract for the 2011 sale of a work by Takashi Murakami to the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. Broad, according to documents, paid $825,000 for the work, while Rubenstein told Salke that the buyer had paid just $630,000. Salke initially brought suit when Rubenstein attempted to add $20,000 to his commission, reports the Times.

Hollywood mogul Michael Ovitz claims that Rubenstein sold works by Richard Prince for him but failed to turn over the funds.

Tamara Mellon, Michael Ovitz Photo: Nicholas Hunt/PatrickMcMullan.com

Tamara Mellon, Michael Ovitz
Photo: Nicholas Hunt/PatrickMcMullan.com

Rubenstein filed for bankruptcy in 2014. His creditors, according to the website Business Bankruptcies, included artist Shepard Fairey, actor Simon Baker, and Ovitz, former Walt Disney Co. president and founder of the Creative Artists Agency.

“We explored every viable alternative to sustain the gallery as it was intended,”Rubenstein told artnet News at the time, “every option from refinancing and restructuring and ultimately concluded in these past two months that insolvency was the only viable path.”


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