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Hyperallergic: Jasper Johns Assistant Charged With $6.5M Theft of 22 Unauthorized Works

August 15, 2013
Jasper Johns and James Meyer in the studio. Photo by Hans Namuth. according to James Meyer, the photo was taken in Johns’ Houston Street studio, the old Provident Loan Society lobby. (image used by permission of Flickr user Roberta Fallon; image originally appeared in a story on The Artblog by Matthew Rose)

Jasper Johns and James Meyer in the studio. Photo by Hans Namuth. according to James Meyer, the photo was taken in Johns’ Houston Street studio, the old Provident Loan Society lobby. (image used by permission of Flickr user Roberta Fallon; image originally appeared in a story on The Artblog by Matthew Rose)

A long time studio assistant for Jasper Johns has been charged with stealing millions of dollars worth of “unauthorized” Johns works, according to Hyperallergic.:

According to documents released this morning, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the New York Office of the FBI have charged a former studio assistant to Jasper Johns with the theft of 22 “unauthorized” Johns works. The assistant, 51-year-old James Meyer of Salisbury, Connecticut (pictured above), had worked for Johns for over 25 years, and allegedly stole the pieces from a file he was responsible for keeping of artworks specifically prohibited by the artist from being sold. The works grossed $6.5 million when Meyer unloaded them through an unnamed Manhattan gallery from September 2006 to February 2012, netting him $3.4 million. Neither the indictment nor the press release name the gallery involved, presumably because they are not suspected of any wrongdoing — the accused provided sworn statements of authenticity and a host of other falsified supporting documents.

In addition to seeking the forfeiture of his proceeds from the sales, the state is charging Meyer with one count of interstate transportation of stolen property and one count of wire fraud. The former carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, the latter a maximum sentence of 20 years.

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