MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal jury convicted a millionaire poet’s personal assistant of stealing an Andy Warhol piece and millions of dollars from the elderly poet. James Biear stole and sold the Andy Warhol piece “Heinz 57,” a crate made to look like a box of ketchup bottles, for $220,000.
Biear was a chauffeur and personal assistant to Kenward Elmslie, grandson of media mogul Joseph Pulitzer.
Biear admitted selling Warhol’s “Heinz 57,” and creating a false provenance letter for it that claimed his uncle had given him the piece.
Biear also stole more than $3 million from Elmslie’s and spent it on lavish European vacations and a house in New York.
Biear was nabbed, apparently on a tip from his ex-wife, after he tried to file a bogus insurance claim on a painting by a 19th century English artist. Police recovered the painting from his fraudulently purchased home and charged him.
The jury found Biear guilty on 10 counts, including money laundering, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud and credit card fraud. He faces up to 145 years in prison at his Feb. 25, 2011 sentencing.