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Press Release

Art Dealer Found Guilty of Embezzling More Than $260,000 from the Bankruptcy Estate of Miracle Mile and Beverly Hills Art Gallery

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – An internationally-known art dealer was found guilty by a jury today of embezzling more than $260,000 from the bankruptcy estate of Ace Gallery Los Angeles, an art gallery located in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, while acting as the estate’s trustee and custodian.

Douglas J. Chrismas, 80, of the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles, was found guilty of three counts of embezzlement against a bankruptcy estate.

Chrismas was the president and CEO of Art and Architecture Books of the 21st Century, which did business as Ace Gallery and had offices located in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles as well as in Beverly Hills.

According to evidence presented at a four-day trial, in February 2013, Ace Gallery filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in Los Angeles and continued to operate while in bankruptcy with Chrismas acting as its fiduciary and trustee. Chrismas remained in control over Ace Gallery until April 2016, when the bankrutpcy court appointed an independent trustee to run Ace Gallery’s bankruptcy estate and Chrismas was removed.

In late March and early April of 2016, Chrismas embezzled approximately $264,595 that belonged to the Ace Gallery bankruptcy estate, including a $50,000 check that Chrismas signed, was drawn against the estate, and was paid to Ace Museum, a separate non-profit corporation that Chrismas owned and controlled.

Chrismas also embezzled $100,000 owed to Ace Gallery by a third party for the purchase of artwork. Instead, the funds were paid – at his direction – to Ace Museum. Finally, Chrismas embezzled approximately $114,595 owed to the gallery by a third party that purchased artwork, but which Chrismas instead had paid to Ace Museum’s landlord to keep current with its $225,000 monthly rent.

United States District Judge Mark C. Scarsi scheduled a September 9 sentencing hearing, at which time Chrismas will face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each count.

The FBI’s Art Crime Team investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Valerie L. Makarewicz of the Major Frauds Section and David W. Williams of the Criminal Appeals Section are prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated May 31, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-131