The feds arrested Douglas J. Chrismas, 77, a noted art dealer on federal charges accusing him of embezzling more than $260,000 from the bankruptcy estate of Ace Gallery, a Miracle Mile-based art gallery, while acting as the estate’s trustee and custodian. The feds claim that Chrismas was the president and CEO of Art and Architecture Books of the 21st Century, dba Ace Gallery. In February 2013, Ace Gallery filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in Los Angeles and continued to operate as a bankruptcy estate with Chrismas acting as the gallery’s president, trustee, custodian and overseer of its operations. In this role, Chrismas also had access to the gallery’s property. Chrismas remained in control over Ace Gallery until April 2016, when an independent bankruptcy trustee was appointed to run the bankruptcy estate and Chrismas was removed as trustee and custodian.
In late March and early April of 2016, Chrismas allegedly 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 a separate corporation that Chrismas owned and controlled. Chrismas allegedly also embezzled $100,000 owed to Ace Gallery by a third party for the purchase of artwork but the funds instead were paid – at his direction – to his separate corporation. Finally, Chrismas embezzled approximately $114,595 owed to the gallery by a third party that purchased artwork, but which he instead had paid to a creditor of his separate corporation, according to the indictment.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.