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Assistant charged in theft from artist

NEW YORK — In the 27 years that James Meyer worked for Pop Art master Jasper Johns, the assistant answered the artist’s phone, stretched his canvases, bought his paint brushes, and even drew lines on his canvases.

During the time they sat together in New York, St. Maarten, and most recently in Sharon, Conn., Johns mentored his apprentice, teaching him how to construct a work of art, how to trace and reuse his drawings, and the technique of painting with thick drops of hot wax, known as encaustic.

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On Wednesday, Meyer was arrested and charged with stealing at least 22 works from his employer and selling them through an unnamed New York gallery for $6.5 million, falsely telling the dealer and buyers that Johns had given them to him as presents and that they would be in the official compendium of the artist’s work.

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