Legendary jazz musician claims former friend stole his $500K award

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- Legendary New York City musician Cecil Taylor, who is revered as one of the pioneers of free jazz, is seeking justice after allegedly being swindled out of $500,000.

The musician was on hand Tuesday as Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced the arrest of a Long Island man and one-time friend to Taylor, Noel Muir.

According to officials, the 54-year-old befriended the elderly musician, gaining his trust only to later rip him off.

Late last year, the pair traveled to Japan where Taylor was awarded the prestigious Kyoto award, an international award honoring artists and humanitarians, which came with a cash prize of nearly $500,000.

Jazz musician

Legendary New York City jazz musician Cecil Taylor claims a former friend made off with his $500K award.

“We learned shortly after that [trip] there was an issue in respect to the prize money and [Taylor] not receiving the prize money,” Thompson said at a press conference Tuesday.

Authorities say Muir, a resident of Uniondale, instructed award officials to wire the prize money to his own personal Citibank account, camouflaging it as one belonging to the Cecil Taylor Foundation.

Since the prize money, $492,722.55, was wired into the account on November 20, 2013, the account has been depleted, officials said.

“If you have a friend,” Taylor told reporters. “And if they make a mistake, hopefully the law will take care of it.”

“I don’t know how unhappy he must be but that’s on him. I want to move on.”

Muir turned himself in to authorities Tuesday and was charged with second degree grand larceny. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years behind bars.

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