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Artist Jasper Johns' former assistant charged with fraud

Jasper Johns' former assistant has been charged with stealing nearly two dozen pieces from the artist and taking them to a New York gallery that sold them for $6.5 million.

James Meyer, 51, who was Johns' assistant for 25 years, allegedly stole the works from the renowned contemporary artist's Connecticut studio and took them to a Manhattan gallery.

The gallery, which has not been named, sold the pieces for $6.5 million between 2006 and 2012 and Meyer pocketed $3.4 million, according to reports.

ART: Can you guess the high price?

The pieces included unfinished works by Johns that had not been authorized for sale.

Meyer allegedly created fake documentation showing he had received the works as gifts, according to reports.

Meyer was charged with transporting goods and wire fraud. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $250,000 bail.

Johns, 83, is best know for his iconic number and flag paintings, one of which sold for $28.6 million at a 2010 auction.

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jamie.wetherbe@latimes.com

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