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Jasper Johns’s Assistant Receives Prison Sentence for Stealing Johns’s Art

Sentenced today to eighteen months in prison for stealing unfinished artworks from his boss, James Meyer, the longtime assistant of Jasper Johns, spoke of regretting his actions and described Johns as “my mentor, employer, and friend since I was twenty-one years old.”

Meyer was ordered to pay restitution of more than thirteen million dollars, according to the New York Times’ Serge F. Kovaleski. He’d sold thirty-seven pieces through a New York gallery, saying that the works had been presents from Johns.

According to prosecutors, the works he sold brought in about about ten million dollars. The judge, however, “described him as a humble and kind man who . . . . had been of significant help to prosecutors,” according to Kovaleski.

Robert Kolker wrote last fall in New York Magazine that one of the dealers who had sold a work brought by Meyer to a client called Johns, trying to explain how bad he felt. Johns reportedly replied in the call, “You feel bad? Imagine how bad I feel. I got duped.”