Prison Time for Jasper Johns Forger

Brian Ramnarine leaving the Manhattan Federal Courthouse last ThursdayPhoto via: The Daily News
Brian Ramnarine leaving the Manhattan Federal Courthouse last Thursday
Photo via: The Daily News

A Queens foundry owner has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for attempting to sell fake bronze sculptures purported to be by Jasper Johns and other artists, the Daily News reports.

In 2010, Brian Ramnarine, owner of the Empire Bronze Art Foundry in Long Island City, tried to sell an imitation of one of Johns’s bronze flag sculptures for $11 million. In 1990, Johns had given Ramnarine a mold of his metallic sculpture Flag (1960) in order to make a wax cast. But instead of destroying the mold, Ramnarine used it to make a new bronze flag, and forged Johns’s signature.

After he was arrested and released on bail in 2012, Ramnarine sold other fake sculptures for $34,250, claiming they were works by the artists Robert Indiana and Saint Clair Cemin.

“Ramnarine’s only art was as a con artist who concocted and carried out not one, but three separate schemes to peddle fake sculptures to unsuspecting buyers for millions of dollars, pretending that they had been made by well-known artists,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Ramnarine pleaded guilty to the charges. He faced up to 10 years of prison time, but the judge lessened the sentence in part because Ramnarine’s lawyer claimed his client had been having some serious health issues, according to the Daily News.

In court, Ramnarine told the judge: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry to bring shame on my family.”


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