Assistant to Jasper Johns charged in massive theft of his work
A longtime studio assistant of the famous artist and printmaker Jasper Johns was arrested in his Salisbury, Conn. home Wednesday and charged with systematically looting $6.5 million worth of Johns' uncompleted art over a six-year period.
James Meyer, who worked for Johns for 25 years, allegedly represented the 22 works he took to an unnamed Manhattan gallery as gifts the artist gave him. He created fake inventory numbers for the unauthorized prints or paintings, and conditioned each sale on a signed agreement that the art would be kept "private" for at least eight years, according to U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara.
The works, stolen between 2006 and 2012, were sold by a Manhattan gallery owner for $6.5 million and Meyer's take was $3.4 million, according to the indictment. Johns, 83, is one of the world's most successful living artists. Meyer faces up to 30 years in prison. His attorney declined to comment.