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A former assistant to artist Jasper Johns has been charged with stealing 22 works
File photo of Laura Vere-Hodge of Christies walking along a gallery containing Picasso's "Femme et Fillettes" (L) and "Flag" by artist Jasper Johns at the auction house in London February 5, 2010.

NEW YORK, NY.- Last wednesday, James Meyer assistant of the master of Pop Art Jasper Johns, was stopped by the FBI and accused of stealing 22 art Works of Johns, some of these unfinished, and selling them to an art gallery in Manhattan. The pieces were valued for 6.5 million dollars and the artist’s assitant acquired 3.4 million. Meyer declared himself innocent and is currently free on (250,000 dollar) bail.

According to the accusation, between 2006 and 2012, Meyer had a parallel archive of unfinished paintings in the artist’s studio in Sharon, Conneticut, which he sold afterwards to a New York art gallery. The assitant falsified the documentation which made him owner of the pieces, which he passed off as gifts from his mentor.

John is one of the most important artists of his generation, known for his United States’ flags canvasses. His work on Three Flags, which can be admired in the Whitney Museum, was acquired in 1980 for a million dollars, the highest sum paid to a live artist to date.

According to his web page, Meyer, of mexican origin, was adopted in California in 1962 and studied at the Visual Arts school of New York before he started to work for Johns. The portal published an interview with Meyers in which he admitted that when he was 22 years old he survived in Brooklin making copied of Van Gogh and Matisse for six dollars an hour to decorate the walls of a chain of restaurants in the city, work he didn’t like. His friends then suggested that he should ask profesional artists if he could collaborate with them. One of the first he tried, according to the article, was Johns.

With a portfolio of his drawings in one hand and his CV on his other hand, Meyer showed up in front of the building where John’s studio was located in Houston Street. “I put on my suit and called”, revealed the assistant. However, that day he didn’t get past the threshold, but he left the painter his work. When he came back the next day to retrieve them, Johns invited him for a cup of coffee. “Come back tomorrow and we’ll see what will happen day to day”, recalls Meyer. Throughout his years collaborating with Johns, Meyer would draw traces in canvasses that Johns would later errase and repaint.

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