Exclusive: Alberto Vilar is back at the Met

Exclusive: Alberto Vilar is back at the Met


norman lebrecht

October 04, 2018

The biggest philanthropist in modern opera has walked free after ending a 10-year sentence for investor fraud, the last six months of which have been spent in a halfway house.

Alberto Vilar, who is 78 today, told Slipped Disc: ‘The first thing I did when I got out was to order a ticket for the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Samson et Delilah.

Vilar this week (c) Slipped Disc

A pioneering technology investor, Vilar insists that the victims of his fraud have been repaid. Vilar and his Amerindo partner Gary Tanaka are now fighting for control of the defunct company’s accounts and pension fund.

Vilar donated millions to the Met, Salzburg, Vienna and Covent Garden, all of which took his name down when he was sent to jail. All of his musician friends – with the notable exception of Valery Gergiev – cut him dead.

If you are enjoying the seatback surtitles at the opera, that’s thanks to Vilar.

Raise a glass to his birthday tonight at the bar.


  • anon says:

    Now that he expiated his crimes, his name should go back up on the wall.

    The same fate should await Levine, as soon as he serves his 10 year sentence.

    There ought to be a Met box reserved for rehabilitated Met criminals.

    • Vaquero357 says:

      Well, his name should have stayed up on the wall for the things he had already paid for, like the subtitle system. If I remember correctly, the MET had renamed part of the house after him, and when he didn’t follow up with the promised funds, they changed the name back. That seems justified.

      Anyway, if (*if*) the investors in his company have been made whole again, Vilar has paid his debt and should be allowed to go on with his life.

    • Mark says:

      Riiiight, and the crime Levine comitted was … ?
      Get lost, SJW

  • anon says:

    Did the Met, Covent Garden, Vienna, Salzburg return that money or did they just take down his name and cried all the way to the bank?

    • Max Grimm says:

      Do you even have to ask?
      I don’t know about London or New York but in Salzburg, they really did cry all the way to the bank…of the roughly €4mio he initially promised them, he only delivered on about €2mio before the law caught up with him.

  • Been Here Before says:

    It is ironic that the guy got himself in trouble because he gave away too much. Had he kept it all to himself, he would not have faced a liquidity problem which then led him to commit fraud. Everybody criticizing him should keep this in mind.

    Since he served his sentence, I don’t see a problem of him attending an opera performance. Let the man enjoy the rest of his days doing what he loves.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      I don’t mind that he comes to the opera and enjoys himself. I do mind that I am asked to welcome him back by “raising my glass to him”. And we should remember he paid for the surtitles with the money he stole from his investors: it wasn’t his money.

      • Been Here Before says:

        I agree with your first point – I am not raising a glass to him either. I hope you realize this was just NL’s bait to start a discussion among the readers.

        As per second point – I did some reading on his case, and to be fair, he was clean until he started having liquidity problems caused by the overextension in his philanthropic projects. So most likely, the subtitles system was financed by the legitimately earned funds.

        P.S. I do agree the guy was an egomaniac, but this by itself was not a criminal offense. Hopefully the prison time got this out of his system.

      • jim says:

        NO, money was ever taken or defrauded, read the facts of the case, or better yet the book when it coes out.


      nobody was actually defrauded in the case, no moneys ever lost period.

  • Elizabeth owen says:

    Will he swan in wearing his look at me white evening dress jacket and sit on the front row?
    Will he have his name printed larger than Verdi’s on Met posters? Ugh, it’s such a shame when theatres are so desparate for money that they will bow and scrape to all sorts.

  • esfir ross says:

    Happy birthday to Alberto Vilar! Thanks to his Amerindo fund-I’m a happy camper now. I told personally to V.Georgiev what a real Kavkasian man he to support AV in hard time.

  • Michael Davidson says:

    Let he who hath not sinned cast the first stone!

  • Jeanne-Marie Lusk says:

    Along with Valery my former husband Peter Lusk was a generous financial and emotional supporter of Alberto .Sadly Peter passed away two years ago before he would see Alberto free. In know Peter would wish Alberto well and Wish him peace in his life .Jeanne-Marie Lusk

  • Wendel Barnes says:

    A crime was committed in that he refused to give the money back to his investors. The US attorney was able to prove it in spite of Vilar’s A-Team legal defense.
    The irony is that the feds made him give the money back plus interest. He spent $10mm+ in his lawyers and went 10 years to jail.
    Is he the dummest crook ever?

  • C Castillo says:

    funny to see all of these fake acquaintances squirm out after al and tanakas release…

    if you get 2 alleged billionaires released from prison (on bail) they owe you a great deal, (their life and thier freedom)
    prison is a viscous,
    daily, life threatening reality.
    (other billionaires similarly currently situated)

    to date we’d have to agree with successful billionaires personal opinions regarding albert and tanaka from their personal experience;

    “He’s (they) a miserable human being and a basic scumbag”

    “many people have fought me over the years but there was something really missing with this guy ”

    with regard to alberto, tanaka and their buddies… (walter p, the property manager, michael t gaztambides, shevitz etc etc) courageous but equally petty…

    The only logical conclusion is that this is how Albert and tanaka were conducting business with others and finally got screwed themselves.
    if Albert and Tanaka had an ounce of integrity class or the ability to actually make money, they would’ve apologized and resolved accordingly.

    the funds procured by AND not payed to the actual rightful defenders, were being used to resolve and to free several actual wrongfully accused and incarcerated elsewhere

    its also funny that lebrechts website was upgraded coincidentally after vilars release.

    so gosh everyone gets paid, except the people they steal their business plans and information from..


    no doubt he will end up in prison again or worse…

    kudos and cheers to the bravery, integrity and intellect that triumph(ed).

    Fleas interest me so much
    that I let them bite me for hours.
    They are perfect, ancient, Sanskrit,
    machines that admit of no appeal.
    They do not bite to eat,
    they bite only to jump;
    they are the dancers of the celestial sphere,
    delicate acrobats
    in the softest and most profound circus;
    let them gallop on my skin,
    divulge their emotions,
    amuse themselves with my blood,
    but someone should introduce them to me.
    I want to know them closely,
    I want to know what to rely on.

    by Pablo Neruda

    c castillo

    cc gspadron

  • Wendell Barnes says:

    was Walter P fired? Normally he would have stepped in, of course denying that he was a paid flak.

  • John Burke says:

    He never repaid his sister, Patricia Vilar, her invested monies and she died of penniless.