Robert De Niro has developed a new found interest in the art world as the protector and promoter of his late father's artwork. Robert De Niro, Sr. enjoyed early success as an artist and art dealer Lawrence Salander was entrusted with his estate after he died of prostate cancer in 1993.
But the "Raging Bull" actor was prompted to take greater control of his father's art legacy in 2010, when Salander was imprisoned for fraud. Prosecutors claimed bosses at Salander-O'Reilly Galleries sold De Niro, Sr.'s paintings without the Hollywood star's knowledge and failed to hand over the profits from the sales.
Lawyers for the actor spent two years in a U.S. bankruptcy court recovering several pieces of his father's work and De Niro admits the incident taught him a vital lesson. The screen icon tells the New York Daily News, "You have to be on top of everything to make sure it's done right. At that time, I thought Larry would take care of it. It doesn't work that way."
Now, De Niro has turned his dad's Manhattan apartment and studio into a private museum, and hired art advisers Megan Fox Kelly and Jeffrey Hoffeld to research his father's work and talk to museums about setting up a new exhibition.
Meanwhile, De Niro's non-profit Tribeca Film Institute has also introduced a $25,000 annual prize in his father's name to reward a "mid-career artist". Kelly explains, "Jeff really thought that it was something that was needed in the art world. We presented the idea to Bob (De Niro) and he loved it."