Ex-Assistant Pleads Guilty To Art Theft

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A former assistant to pop artist Jasper Johns has pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen property. James Meyer admitted he lacked permission to take or transport art from 2006 to 2011.


And now a story of trust betrayed. For 27 years, James Meyer worked as an assistant to the American artist Jasper Johns. Johns created this famous painting of the American flag. The colors faded as if it's been out a long time in the sun. In fact, he did multiple paintings of the flag - one sold in 2010 for almost $30 million.


Well, the painter's assistant apparently wanted a share of such riches. Yesterday, in federal court, he pleaded guilty to taking artworks from the artist's Connecticut studio. They were sold for about $6.5 million.

GREENE: He told a gallery owner that Johns gave him the art and said the sales had to remain a secret for at least eight years.

INSKEEP: The U.S. attorney said Meyer made millions by stealing and will now have to pay for that decision.

GREENE: He faces up to 10 years in prison.

INSKEEP: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News and we want to let you know about an important conversation that is coming tonight in Ferguson, Missouri. Of course we've all been following the story of an unarmed black 18-year-old who was shot by a white police officer and the demonstrations that have followed. Tonight, in Ferguson, NPR's Michel Martin will be hosting a town hall meeting. It's with St. Louis public radio, and you can hear parts of that conversation tomorrow on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

GREENE: And I'm David Greene.

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