Vail Valley arts patron Alberto Vilar finishes 10-year prison sentence with ‘supervised’ release | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley arts patron Alberto Vilar finishes 10-year prison sentence with ‘supervised’ release

Former investor and Vail Valley philantropist Alberto Vilar finished a 10-year prison sentence for securities fraud. All Vilar's former Amerindo clients have been repaid with interest, his attorney Vivian Shevitz said.

NEW YORK — Venture capitalist and arts supporter Alberto Vilar, 78, for whom the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek is named, has been released from the Fort Dix Correctional facility in New Jersey.

Vilar was arrested in May 2005 on charges of investor fraud and convicted in 2008 on 12 counts for his dealings through Amerindo Advisors, his investment company. His 10-year sentence ended with a "supervised release," said his attorney, Vivian Shevitz.

Federal prosecutors initially charged Vilar and his partner, Gary Tanaka, with stealing $22 million dollars from some of their investors. Shevitz said all those investors have been repaid with interest — all with money that Shevitz pointed out had been frozen by federal officials all along.

Massive arts patron

Vilar donated an estimated $250 million to opera houses and other arts institutions around the world, as well as hospitals and other causes.

In the Vail Valley, Vilar contributed $7 million to build Beaver Creek's Vilar Performing Arts Center, as well as $2 million toward the $10 million renovation of Vail's Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.

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Much of Vilar's wealth came from his San Francisco-based Amerindo Advisors, an investment company that mushroomed during the high-tech boom of the 1990s.

Vilar earned hundreds of millions of dollars on investments as the stock market rose in double digits almost annually. At its zenith, Forbes magazine placed Vilar's fortune at $950 million.

Rises and falls

When the tech bubble burst, Amerindo's $9 billion portfolio hemorrhaged about 80 percent of its value.

After Vilar's 2005 arrest, he found himself largely abandoned by his affluent acquaintances and was confined to his apartment under house arrest for more than three years as he awaited trial in federal court before U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan.

His reversal of fortunes caused problems for some of the philanthropic organizations to which Vilar had pledged money.

When Vilar fell short of the $3.5 million he had promised the Vail Valley Foundation for its Ford Amphitheater project, the foundation had to borrow $1.5 million to finish it.

In New York, the Metropolitan Opera took his name off its grand tier. The Royal Opera at Covent Garden in London removed his surname from its Floral Hall, and the Salzburg Festival in Austria stripped his picture from its programs.

Vilar also lost three Beaver Creek properties to foreclosure by local banks. He subsequently paid what was owed and then sold the properties.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.