- Alberto Vilar, 73, was found guilty of stealing $22million from his clients
- Con artist used ill-gotten gains to fund donations to New York operas
- He was jailed for nine years in 2010 but has been released pending an appeal
- Vilar is under curfew but has asked to be allowed out for a night at the opera
By Sara Malm
PUBLISHED: 05:35 EST, 11 October 2013 | UPDATED: 08:26 EST, 11 October 2013
A billionaire scam artist put under house arrest after funneling millions from his clients has asked to be allowed a more lenient curfew so he can go to the opera.
Disgraced financier Alberto Vilar, 73, used some of the $22million he stole from his clients to fund his favourite philanthropies, including the Metropolitan Opera.
The opera-loving swindler was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2010 but was released under a strict 11pm curfew last year pending an appeal.
Illegal libretto: Alberto Vilar, pictured in 2007, stole $22million from his clients to fund his lavish life style and pay for donations to his favourite opera houses
Now the septuagenarian libretto-fan wants to be allowed to stay out beyond 1am in the morning so he can be allowed to watch his favourite opera and ‘socialise’ after the curtain closes.
‘Alberto Vilar has been offered free tickets to a sold-out opera this Saturday night by the conductor, his original bail signer Valery Gergiev,’ his lawyer said Wednesday in a letter to Manhattan Federal Court Judge Richard Sullivan.
‘The opera does not let out until after his curfew. Mr Vilar would like the opportunity to socialize after the opera for a short time, and asks that his curfew be extended to 1:30 a.m.,’ lawyer Vivian Shevitz said in the letter.
Vilar’s request was swiftly denied by Judge Sullivan, but his lawyer is requesting a reconsideration, NY Daily News reports.
Pet project: Vilar has requested to be allowed to stay beyond his curfew to see Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’, pictured during a London production, at the Metropolitan Opera this weekend
Stolen gift: Alberto Vilar, center, poses with tenor and artistic director of the Los Angeles Opera, Placido Domingo, right, and Valery Gergiev, of Russia’s Mariinsky Opera and Ballet, as they announce Vilar’s multi-milion gift to the operas in 2000
Vilar built up a billion dollar fortune as a star of the dot-com era, thanks to early bets on companies such as Microsoft and Intel.
His business Amerindo Investment Advisers at one stage had $10billion (£6.6billion) under management.
In 2000, Vilar was claiming to be ‘the largest supporter of classical music, opera, and ballet in the world’. Among his gifts was £10million to London’s Royal Opera House for the Vilar Floral Hall, its showpiece foyer, now simply Floral Hall.
When the dot-com bubble burst, he began siphoning money out of his clients’ accounts to fund his philanthropies and to pay the mortgage on his New York apartment, and stole a total of $22million.
Vilar and his business partner Gary Tanaka were arrested in May 2005, after one of their clients, heiress Lily Cates, the mother of Hollywood actress Phoebe Cates, claimed they had stolen $5million from her.
They were charged in 2006 and Vilar was found guilty on all 12 counts of fraud.
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