Noel Muir, Contractor Who Stole $500K from Cecil Taylor, Sentenced to Prison

By Ian Holubiak on Apr 07, 2016 04:46 PM EDT
Noel Muir, Contractor Who Stole $500K from Cecil Taylor, Sentenced to Prison Noel Muir, a contractor from Uniondale N.Y. who stole nearly $500,000 from jazz pianist Cecil Taylor, has been sentenced to prison on chrages of grand larceny. (Photo : Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

Earlier this year it was reported that Noel Muir, a contractor, stole nearly $500,000 in Kyoto Prize money from jazz giant Cecil Taylor. Now, Mr. Muir has been sentenced to one to three years in prison for grand larceny.

The Kyoto Prize is a designation from the Inamori Foundation of Japan that rewards artists who not only contribute to the zeitgeist but who also contribute to "scientific, cultural and spiritual development."

Mr. Muir, 55, of Uniondale, N.Y. has been indicted on charges stemming from his swindling of Mr. Taylor's prize money that was deposited directly into his Citibank account under the misnomer of the Cecil Taylor Foundation. The contractor plead guilty to the charges.

For those who haven't followed the case, Mr. Muir befriended Mr. Taylor during the time he was contracted to work on the musician's Fort Greene brownstone. Mr. Taylor, who inherently trusted Mr. Muir, had him accompany the jazz giant to Japan in November 2013.

It was during this time that Mr. Muir arranged to have the money deposited into the phony account, of which he spent roughly $300,000 on personal use. During the arraignment, it was noted that Mr. Taylor, in warranted frustration, told the contractor to "die."

Ken Thompson, district attorney, said in a statement:

"[Muir] shamefully bilked an elderly, vulnerable man out of half a million dollars in prize money that he received in recognition of his great talent and enormous contributions to jazz. In doing so, the defendant pretended to be Cecil Taylor's friend, but this guilty plea and sentence show that he was just a thief."

Mr. Taylor also added that he thinks Mr. Muir is "not a spiritual man" and will ultimately get what he deserves.

A most unfortunate circumstance for the jazz musician to face, especially as a living legend, Mr. Taylor has already been reimbursed $200,000 with Mr. Muir required to pay out the rest of the cash as restitution.

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TagsCecil Taylor, Noel Muir, Inamori Foundation, Kyoto Prize

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