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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Disgraced Former Director of National Arts Club to Pay Up

The National Arts Club, New York City. The National Arts Club, New York City.

O. Aldon James, the former director of the prestigious National Arts Club in New York, has been ordered to pay $950,000 to settle claims that he mismanaged the institution and used its funds to support his lavish lifestyle. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued James in September 2013, claiming that him, his brother and an associate were using over a dozen apartments and other space at the club’s headquarters rent-free. Schneiderman also said that James used tens of thousands of dollars to purchase goods from antique store, flea markets and vintage clothing boutiques.

The settlement will be divided between Schneiderman and the club – $50,000 will go to the plaintiff and the remaining $900,000 will be given to the organization. However, many critics feel that James and his cohorts should have been more severely punished since the club has accrued over $1 million in legal fees alone thanks to the debacle. In addition to the fine, James has been banned from any future nonprofit leadership roles and must vacate the spaces he occupied at the club by the end of July.

The private National Arts Club was founded in 1898 by the art and literary critic for the New York Times, Charles DeKay. The organization’s goal has remained intact: to “stimulate, foster and promote public interest in the arts and to educate the American people in the fine arts.” A long list of distinguished artists have belong to the National Arts Club since its founding including Robert Henri, William Merritt Chase and Alfred Stieglitz.    

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