Jasper Johns’ former studio assistant of 27 years has pleaded guilty stealing and selling works of art by the artist in a multimillion-dollar theft case. James Meyer, 51 of Salisbury, Connecticut, allegedly took 22 pieces of art worth $6.5m (£3.9m) from a studio plans chest drawer. He was employed as an assistant at Johns’ Sharon, Connecticut, art studio. He then offered the work for sale to a Manhattan art gallery, according to a press release from the U.S. district attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Meyer sold the work through a gallery by creating fake inventory numbers and pages in a ledger book of authorised Johns’ artwork. Two dozen incomplete works were sold by telling the gallery that they were personal gifts from the artist. The assistant received $3.4m from the sales, which totalled $6.5m.
prosecutor Preet Bharara revealed in a statement. “James Meyer made millions by stealing and selling the valuable artworks that he was entrusted with maintaining,” stated the “With his guilty plea today, Meyer will now have to pay for that decision.”
Jasper Johns born 1930 is an American painter and printmaker, forerunner of Pop art, who uses commonplace emblematic images such as flags or numbers as the starting-point for works of great richness and complexity. Born in Augusta, Georgia, and grew up in South Carolina. Studied at the University of South Carolina for about 1 1/2 years when he received his first formal training in art, then moved in 1949 to New York. Two years military service, part of the time in Japan. From 1952 lived in New York, supporting himself until 1958 mainly by working in a bookstore. Friendship from the mid 1950s with Rauschenberg, the dancer Merce Cunningham and John Cage. Made his first ‘Flag’, ‘Target’ and ‘Number’ paintings in 1954 and 1955 his first one-man exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, in 1958 won him immediate recognition. Since 1960 has also made nearly 300 lithographs, etchings, screenprints, and embossed paper and lead reliefs. Director of the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts since 1963 and Artistic Adviser to Merce Cunningham and Dance Company. Lives in New York.
Meyer, who now faces up to 10 years in prison was dismissed as a studio assistant in 2013.