De Niro to Gallery You Takin' My Paintings From Me?

11/19/2007 2:25 PM PST

De Niro to Gallery -- You Takin' My Paintings from Me?

Robert De Niro is putting the heat on a Rome art gallery that he says took some of his father's paintings to settle a debt.

A rep for De Niro says in a statement to TMZ that he is taking the "legal action" to return 12 of the late Robert De Niro Sr.'s paintings to their rightful owner -- De Niro Jr., aka the Oscar-winning actor. They were allegedly given by Salander-O'Reilly Galleries in New York to Benucci S.r.l., a Rome gallery, to settle a $5 million debt -- without De Niro's knowledge.

Bobby D's dad was a leading abstract expressionist painter and friend of artist Willem de Kooning and author Tennessee Williams, among others. Benucci could not be reached for comment, and De Niro's rep didn't specify what form the legal action would take.