Foundry Owner Cops to Jasper Johns Fraud
MANHATTAN (CN) - In Day 5 of his trial, a Queens man pleaded guilty to trying to sell an unauthorized copy of Jasper John's "Flag" sculpture for $11 million.
Johns made the painting "Flag" for his fellow artist and friend Bob Rauschenberg in 1960.
Years later Johns solicited Brian Ramnarine, owner the Empire Bronze Art Foundry in the Long Island City, to make a wax cast with a mold of that painting.
"Although Ramnarine completed the wax cast and provided it to Johns, Ramnarine never returned to Johns the flag mold from which the wax cast was made," a superseding indictment against Ramndarine states.
Prosecutors said the Queens man later forged documents attesting to the provenance of a 1989 "Bronze Flag" mold that he tried to sell to an art collector for millions.
After he was charged with wire fraud in 2012, the government added charges related to Ramnarine's attempted ale of fake bronzes from molds by artists Robert Indiana and Saint Clair Cemen.
Ramnarine, 59, pleaded guilty to all three counts Monday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced, calling the man Ramnarine a "serial fraudster."
Although the charges carry a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison, prosecutors will recommend a guideline range of roughly 8 to 10 years in prison due to his pleas. He might also have to pay up to a $750,000 fine plus $33,000 in restitution and $34,250 in forfeiture.