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The Con Artist: Red Flags, the Racist Chair, and the One Who Got Away
by Max Nesterak

Founders Keepers

Jasper Johns, Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Sculptor and cacoepy-vigilante Jasper Johns testified before a federal court in Manhattan on Thursday, stating that no, he did not authorize anyone to reproduce his sculpture, and it’s pronounced ˈraʊʃənbɜːɡ, btw. The 83-year-old artist, whose work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others, was called to testify in the case against founder Brian Ramnarine, who is being tried for three counts of wire fraud. Ramnarine allegedly used sculpture molds he acquired while running a foundry in Queens to reproduce and hawk unauthorized copies of artworks, among them a piece from Johns he tried to sell for $11 million. In addition to providing critical testimony against Ramnarine, Johns used his time on the stand to drop some knowledge on one lawyer who could not pronounce Rauschenberg and did not understand foundry best-practices. 


Neither PC nor C 

Russian contemporary gallery owner/Russian oligarch girlfriend/possibly racist white socialite, Dasha Zhukova, faced harsh backlash for a photo of her published in the Russian magazine Buro 24/7. She’s shown sitting serenely on a sculpture of a half-naked black woman in hooker boots. Oh yeah, and it was published on Martin Luther King Day. But it’s cool, the magazine editor Miroslava Duma cropped the sculpture out of the picture, since the Internet totally works like that. And she apologized on Instagram, (incorrectly) attributing the sculpture to British Pop-Artist Allen Jones and writing “In our eyes everyone is equal. And we love everybody.” Totally! The piece is actually by Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard and is only based on Jones’s piece, but whatever, everybody’s the same right. 


Please Stop 

Photo courtesy of Robert Zimmerman Jr.'s Twitter 


George Zimmerman announced the release of his latest masterpiece on Twitter yesterday. Well, Zimmerman’s brother got to do the honors, tweeting a picture of @TherealGeorgeZ’s latest. In “Angie C.,” Zimmerman turns his critical eye to the American justice system. It’s a portrait of Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, the attorney who prosecuted Zimmerman for murdering the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Accompanying Zimmerman’s likeness of Corey is her quote “I have this much respect for the American judicial system.” The words “this much” are smaller than the other words, most likely symbolizing just how much little respect Corey has for the American judicial system (because having little respect for a system that finds Zimmerman not guilty is obviously a sign of a darker, anti-American conspiracy). 

Today, Zimmerman’s brother said they’ve already received numerous offers for “Angie C.” although he hasn’t yet tweeted how many. Zimmerman’s last cheesy painting sold on ebay for the unconscionable sum of $100,000, which definitely speaks more to how racist America is rather than Zimmerman’s artistic abilities. 


Keep Your Eyes Open 

Photo courtesy of 

The townspeople of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho are calling for the safe return of their beloved (“and very identifiable”) 1920s bronze sculpture of a woman riding a bicycle with two dogs, which until last Friday night, adorned one of the town’s recreational parks. Officer Mark Knapp of the Coeur d'Alene Police Department told KXLY they will remain vigilant. "It's a bronze lady in a seated position so that’s going to be hard to miss," Knapp said. "We're keeping our eyes open." The thieves are suspected professionals and face felony charges (yes, felony charges) if caught. The estimated loss is $25,000, though KXLY notes the pieces are worth much less if melted down and resold to buy meth. Anyone with information about the missing bicycler and her little dog is asked to call the local police at 208-769-2320. 



Tween-Idol  ... oh, who gives a f$%#?! 


#JustinBieber was arrested for a DWI in Miami whilst drag racing in his Lamborghini. Then he dropped a bunch of f-bombs, waved to his fans, and had an epic mug shot taken. People made a bunch of funny pictures using PhotoShop and wrote a bunch of stuff on their blogs. Obligatory. 












The con artist is a weekly series on the art world’s dark-side of deception, intrigue, and fucked-uppery. Have a tip? Email max [at] artslant [dot] com. 

Posted by Max Nesterak on 1/24/14 | tags: photography mixed-media sculpture Bjarne Melgaard dasha zhukova jasper jones justin bieber allen jones miroslava duma George Zimmerman

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