An $11 million fake sculpture being sold in New York City has landed a Queens man behind bars, according to The Associated Press.
Brian Ramnarine was arrested on Thursday for attempting to pass off a fake Jasper Johns sculpture as the real thing. As a result of his misguided actions, the man was picked up by authorities and charged with one count of wire fraud.
According to the Daily Mail, Ramnarine received the mold from Johns back in the 1960s in order to make a wax cast of the artist’s well-known creation entitled “Flag.” However, Johns never asked Ramnarine to return the mold.
Years later, Ramnarine has allegedly used the “Flag” mold to create a bronze version of Johns’ famous piece in an attempt to make some easy cash on the side. Authorities say the mold was used without the artist’s permission and contained a forged version of his signature.
Ramnarine will now face criminal charges for attempting to pass off the $11 million fake sculpture as the real deal. If he’s found guilty of the crimes, the suspect could face up to 20 years behind bars.
According to the New York Times, the 58-year-old Queens foundry owner attempted to pull a similar scam with a fake sculpture about ten years ago. Ramnarine was ultimately found guilty of falsifying business records. In addition to paying $100,000 in restitution, he was also placed on five years probation.
The suspect sold three fake metal sculptures to a pair of art buyers. The individuals claim that Ramnarine told them the pieces where crafted by a handful of postmodern artists.
Ramnarine has stated that the original Japser Johns mold was destroyed years ago when he was evicted by a landlord.
The suspect has pleaded not guilty to the charge of wire fraud stemming from his $11 million fake sculpture scam. He was released on $250,000 bond.