Ex-Assistant to Jasper Johns Cops to Art Fraud

     MANHATTAN (CN) - A former studio assistant to Jasper Johns pleaded guilty to stealing 22 works by the artist's Connecticut studio that sold for $6.5 million, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
     James Meyer, 52, worked for the contemporary neo-Dadaist artist for 25 years and maintained a studio file drawer of unfinished works that had not been authorized for sale.
     Between 2006 and 2012, he swiped nearly two dozen of these works and had them sold by a Manhattan gallery and other purchasers. Prosecutors said Meyer told these entities that the works were gifts from Johns.
     Meyers made $3.4 million on the transactions and covered his tracks with fictitious inventory numbers and faked ledger book pages, according to the 2013 indictment.
     Announcing Meyer's guilty plea Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Meyer "made millions by stealing and selling the valuable artworks that he was entrusted with maintaining."
     "With his guilty plea today, Meyer will now have to pay for that decision," Bharara added in a statement.
     Meyer faces nearly four years in prison at his sentencing on Dec. 10 and has agreed to a preliminary forfeiture of more than $3.9 million, according to his plea agreement.
     The Francis M. Naumann Gallery of Midtown Manhattan sued Meyer for fraud in May.