Artist Jasper Johns testifies at N.Y. trial about forged sculpture

Thu Jan 23, 2014 7:45pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jasper Johns knows his own work when he sees it.

So when the renowned U.S. artist on Thursday was shown a sculpture he supposedly created and was asked whether it was genuine, he said no without any hesitation.

"I can tell by looking at it," the 83-year-old artist told jurors in Manhattan federal court, where a foundry owner is on trial for allegedly trying to sell the fake sculpture for $11 million.

Brian Ramnarine, 59, is charged with three counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors say he used molds he acquired from artists while running a foundry in the city's Queens borough to create unauthorized sculptures.

In addition to the Johns sculpture, which came from a mold made from the artist's 1960 painting "Flag," Ramnarine also is charged with ripping off work from artists Saint Clair Cemin and Robert Indiana.

Prosecutors said he tried to sell those sculptures last year while out on bail after his arrest in connection with the Johns sculpture.

Clad in a dark gray sweater, black scarf, black pants and black sneakers, Johns spent slightly more than an hour on the witness stand.

He said he had been considering creating sculptures made of gold based on "Flag" when he commissioned Ramnarine in 1990 to make a wax cast from a mold he had made of the painting.   Continued...

Contemporary artist Jasper Johns exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid