Exclusive: Alberto Vilar's appeal is being heard. He deserves to go free.

Exclusive: Alberto Vilar's appeal is being heard. He deserves to go free.


norman lebrecht

September 22, 2011

Alberto Vilar, the financier who gave more money to opera than any other man or bank, has presented his appeal against conviction for consiracy to commmit fraud, for which he is serving a nine-year sentence at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

A source close to the defence tells me that the appeal argues there was no fraud, nor any conspiracy.

The jury was not told that there was twice enough money left in his company Amerindo’s account to pay the claims. It was revealed only at the sentencing hearing that $43 million was available for restitution against claims of $22 million.

‘Alberto and his partner Gary Tanaka never denied they owed this money,’ says my source. ‘When the government shut down Amerindo in 2005, Bear Stearns froze their accounts.’ That money is now at JBMorgan Chase, the bank that took over the collapsed Bear Stearns in 2008.

Alberto’s appeal was submitted yesterday. A separate status conference dealing with the money matter will be held tomorrow.

Alberto, who is 70, should not be kept in jail at a time when none of the collapsed US bankers, who committed far greater conspiracies, has been prosecuted. He should be allowed to pay the claims and walk free, while continuing to fight to clear his name – a name that the Metropolitan Opera, which received  gift of $30 million, lost no time in removing from its wall.

Setting Alberto free would give payback to the claimants, and justice to him.

But this is America, where justice is blind and a man can be sent to execution, despite prosecution witnesses revoking their testimony.

I hope Alberto has better luck, and better lawyers.

with Michael Kaiser, at Washington National Opera


  • John Burke says:

    What he did to his own sister, my mother, is beyond any bounds of human civility and speaks volumes as to his moral fiber. She had entrusted her life savings to him and over the course of 20 plus years never received a single account statement or any accounting of her investment. Is this a guy to be trusted and have faith in. I think not. My mother had faith in him even in the face of overwhelming facts to his obvious deceit and still to this day believes in him even though he has rebuffed every effort on her part to reach out to him. He has sent back to her unopened letters, return to sender. This sound like an individual who knows he has wronged people but refuses to accept responsibility. As to the individuals who you say believe in him and paying for his defense, I say he must not have stolen from them directly. I know he has no intention of making my mother whole, he will not even admit she gave him any monies to invest on her behalf for her retirement. He will lie to your face and then tell you how wronged he is that you question his integrity. Sounds like a sociopath to me.

    • G Padron says:

      Hey John , not kosher , please contact us, hope your grandfather made it through this ok..sorry to hear about your mom..
      GS Padron fb

  • Walter says:

    Call it Bashing the Benefactor: I attended Alberto Vilar’s trial. His sister, Patricia Vilar Burke, wrote two letters on his behalf to Federal Judge Richard Sullivan prior to sentencing. Here are excerpts from the second letter which addresses comments made by her son, John Burke, in a letter to the judge (Case CR-006221, Doc. 412): “Alberto had good relationships with my three children and was always concerned about their education. He was doing nice things for me like leasing a new car and buying 1st class airline tickets. That went on for years. He later sent me $7,000 checks monthly. I never asked for this. My brother is a good man and a helpful person to my family. It breaks my heart to look at pictures of him today. My son Jon Albert Burke, a stock broker I learned this week sent a letter (to the judge). I have never asked John to do anything for me. Alberto sent him to a good private prep school for years in Concord, Mass, and to Dickinson College, PA for four years. Alberto also gave John a job with his company. Without telling me John wrote this mean and nasty letter. Why does John make life more difficult? Alberto has done nothing but good for my family all my life. Raising John was not easy. Alberto was alway there to help me with the children. He is a good man and I dearly love him.”

    • john says:

      That is what is so sad, she believed in him throughout all of this and like his clients has nothing. No accounting, no contact with him, no nothing. She has dementia and is unable to recall the facts. I never worked for or with Albert nor did I attend Dickinson, and any educational assistance was gratefully appreciated. Albert was never close to anyone unless he was getting stroked for it, much like having his name put up at the MET or Covent Garden. The truth and the fact remains: he STOLE monies from his clients and his family and then perpetuated a lie, fraud, to hide it. He will never admit the truth or take responsibility for what he has done, maybe once he makes amends to his sister and family he can receive forgiveness.

      • Mr Vilar’s sister got one thing wrong: She confused Dickinson College with Dennison University. Mr Burke’s assertion that “any educational assistance was gratefully appreciated” speaks for itself.

  • Branimir Pofuk says:

    Mentioning the Met which “which received gift of $30 million, (and) lost no time in removing (Vilar’s name) from its wall” what happened to Covent Garden’s Vilar Floral Hall?
    I met and interviewed Mr. Vilar in St. Petersburg in 2000. If he had done nothing else but sponsored the magnificient Mariinsky/Scala coproduction of Prokofiev’s War and Peace (directed by Konchalovsky, conducted by Gergiev) he would deserve my personal gratitude. Norman, please, if you get in touch with Mr. Vilar, give him the best wishes and regards from Croatia.

  • Latchezar Christov says:

    This poor excuse for a human being deserves all that the court gave him and more.
    We were friends, as it turned out for his convenience, as he literally begged me to help introduce prospective clients for his money management firm. At one point, my referrals represented almost 10% of all of his money under his control including the lady who turned him in. He was to pay me one third of all fees earned by Amerindo which he did-for a while until the numbers became really big and he stopped. I took him to Arbitration and he lost but was unable to to collect as he was arrested.

    This was a poor insecure man who changed with his success and money earning ability. He demanded recognition by everyone for his serial gift giving just to secure name recognition. Maybe he even liked opera. But he was no friend and he was a thief to boot. I hope the court leaves him where he belongs.

  • GeoPilot says:


    We were not payed by Alberto Vilar, Walter Phaefle Peter Lusk and a few of the other family and freinds (we wont mention) that authorized our defense and posted bail for the ONLY successful defense that got him bail in 2013… Used by Harvard professors…
    He had money for the bail though… Lol
    Spociba, Grazie Gracias Thanks Albert.

    He might be a jerk, but is a factually innocent jerk..
    With some additional funding it is possible to file have him released and compensated, and or keep the companies and or split the profit.
    And or just file and keep the companies..
    If Interested I don’t care what side you’re on contact us…

    He is
    We will post our $15 million dollar property.
    For guarantee
    Apparently he still has 90 million in the Bahamas and Caymans etc etc…

    Ok please advise, it was our defense that got him released.

    Time is of the essence…

    Love the integrity…
    We provided the defense to Shevitz to get Vilar released… She gave it to Dershowitz
    Funny thing is shevitz outright refused to file issues that would’ve gotten him outright aqcuiited and free and reimbursed similar to David Ganek… Only tons better
    If people are upset the didnt get thier monies they can blame the govt.
    He had $40 million in the bank vs $19 million owed to clients including Cates.
    And rumored $90 million in the Bahamas Caymans
    Donated $250 million would you Steal $5 million? Doesn’t make sense…
    Read the case files…
    Amerindo was/is worth $500 millon.
    Curious why they took his company?
    With the appropriate funding and strategy he would be freed and compensated/split billions and would have the companies back. (Or compensated)
    Well stake our 15 million dollar property interests on it etc

    Have a good day.