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The Dark Side

October Edition

James Meyer- this former assistant, of over 25 years, to the American contemporary artist Jasper Johns, pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen property.  According to the reports, between 2006 and 2011, Meyer, 52, stole 22 unfinished artworks from the artist’s studio and sold them as authentic/finished pieces to an unidentified Manhattan art gallery.  Claiming they were gifts from his former employer, Meyer forged inventory numbers and photographs of Johns’ ledger book of registered works.  The 22 works sold for about $6.5, leaving Meyer with roughly $4 million that he has agreed to hand over to the courts in his plea deal.  Meyer is scheduled to be sentenced on December 10th and is facing up to 4 years in prison and fines between $7,500 and $75,000.

Christopher J. Carter & Christopher L. Willey – these two 22 year olds were taken into custody after tipsters identified them as the burglars of Wilson’s Auction in Lincoln, DE.  Both racked up some hefty charges.  Carter, burglary in the third degree, theft of a firearm (a fully loaded .357 revolver was stolen from Wilson’s safe and yet to be found), possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, theft over $1,500, conspiracy in the second degree, possession of a controlled substance (he had EIGHT small bags of heroin on him when arrested), tampering with physical evidence (he began emptying his pockets while being chased by the police), possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest.  Willey has been charged with burglary in the third degree, theft of a firearm, possession of a fire arm by a person prohibited, theft over $1,500, and conspiracy in the second degree.

Peter Chang & Cheng Gang Cao – both purchased 33 lots totaling $1.6M in Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ June sale.  After paying $162,500 to the auction house they refused further payments and Hindman filed a lawsuit.  According to the printed conditions of the sale agreed by the bidders, they must pay no later than the seventh business day after the sale.  If not, there are some additional fees: a 1.5% late fee for every 30 days the full payment is not made (in this case that adds up to almost $21K each 30 days) and $5 storage fee per day per lot that it is not picked up.  Hindman was able to sell one of the lots to a third party for $94K decreasing Chang and Cao’s debt to $1.4 million.  In the lawsuit, Hindman is seeking payment for the cost of the lots, legal fees and cost, storage costs, interest costs and disbursement. Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

Cornelius Gurlitt – this art hoarder passed away in May, and many thought his stash was all accounted for; but that was not the case.  It was recently revealed that Gurlitt left a suitcase behind during a recent hospital stay.  When it was opened, guess what?  Yes, they found another painting inside … an original Monet!  Amazing, to say the least.

What is pretty funny is that there have been a number of recent studies claiming art can help the healing process … guess Gurlitt wanted some powerful medicine!  Officials have now added this work to their checklist of possible looted works and will attempt to determine who the rightful owner is.

About Alyssa T. Rehs

Alyssa Rehs is a fourth generation Art Dealer at her family owned art galleries, Rehs Galleries, Inc. and Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., New York City, New York. She received an Art History degree from the University of Rhode Island in 2012 as well as interned at Christie’s Auction House, New York City. Using her art historian degree, gallery experience, and a summer spent working at the auction house, she has a well rounded understanding of the art market. Alyssa appreciates the market from multiple standpoints; art lover, art buyer and art seller!


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