Jasper Johns assistant guilty of theft


Divya Thakur, Jasper Johns Flag at MoMA. Full credit at end of article

James Meyer, former assistant to the artist Jasper Johns, has been sentences to 18 months in prison for stealing the artist’s works and selling them to New York galleries.

Meyer worked as an assistant for the painter for 25 years, and stole 22 works between 2006 and 2012. The works in question, which were unfinished, were sold without the permission of Johns. Meyer amassed a total of $6.5 million through the sale of the works, the majority of which he kept for himself. Accused of providing forged authentication documents, he has agreed to pay $4 million in exchange for a shorter jail sentence. Never having succeeded in selling his own work, Meyer aroused suspicious when he appeared to have come into significant sums of money in 2007. Meyer pleaded guilty during the court case.

Johns, born in 1930, is an American artist known for his important role in the Pop art and Abstract Expressionist movements. His work Flag, depicting an American flag, is amongst the artist’s most important pieces, and is currently housed in New York’s MoMA. The artist created several series based on the motifs of flags, numbers, and targets, either painted or drawn. His work False Start, which sold for $80 million, set the record for the highest sum fetched by a living artist.


‘Jasper Johns Flag at MoMA’ Image courtesy of Divya Thakur under creative commons license.