Gardner Museum Heist Case Might Crack

Studio 360
Twenty-three years ago this week, two thieves walked into Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and made off with thirteen works of art valued at a half-billion dollars, including paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Manet, and sketches by Degas. The FBI calls it the largest property heist in history, and it remains officially unsolved. But the agency used the anniversary to announce developments in the case. Federal investigators now say a sale of the art was attempted in Philadelphia a decade ago; they also stated they know the thieves' identities, but have not revealed their names. Stephen Kurkjian, who has been covering the Gardner story for the Boston Globe since 1995, tells Kurt Andersen that the half-announcement is a particular strategy. The investigators aren't interested in all the details of what happened at the museum and afterward; "they are focused solely on ... getting the artwork back. What they need now is getting the public's help." The Gardner Museum is offering a $5 million reward, and the FBI is using some of the same public information campaign tactics it used to catch Whitey Bulger two years ago. Kurkjian would like to see the Gardner case solved, but he'll enjoy it as long as it lasts. "It's a true Boston story," he says, "because it connects both the high culture of this city with the criminal underworld ... so that connection brings so much power to this story." You can see pictures of all the stolen works below, or share any information on the case or the location of the works with the FBI.    Thirteen works of art stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 (Courtesy of The FBI)