Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Monday, October 15, 2018

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Reward Price List Will Lead to Gardner Art Recovery

Gardner Art Reward Price List
Establish an itemized reward price list showing the amount that will be received for returning each of the stolen items, to accommodate the possibility that the 13 stolen Gardner artworks are no longer together.

Reward Total $10 million

Vermeer $5 million

Rembrandt Storm on the Sea $3 million

Rembrandt Lady and Gentleman in Black $1 million

Manet Chez Tortoni $500,000

After Rembrandt Obelisk painting $100,000

A bronze eagle finial
(c. 1813–1814) $100,000

Small Self-Portrait
by Rembrandt $50,000

An ancient Chinese Gu $50,000

La Sortie de Pesage
by Degas $ 50,000

Cortege aux Environs de Florence
by Degas $50,000

Three Mounted Jockeys
by Degas
(c. 1885–1888) $50,000

Program for an Artistic Soirée 1
by Degas
(1884) £25,000

Program for an Artistic Soirée 2
by Degas
(1884) ~$25,000

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Stolen Art Watch, Kelly Horan Demands Gardner Art Recovery, Turbo Plan Provides Solution

Kelly Horan, host of Last Seen podcast about the Gardner Art Heist, reveals the tragic loss of the Gardner art can be compared to the tragic loss of the infant son of Isabella Stewart Gardner.

It is universally agreed that there is a desperate need to recover the Gardner art, however, until now no-one has offered practial solutions.

The Turbo Plan offers a solution going forward with the Gardner Art Reward Price List and Change .org petition:

Isabella Left This Art In Our Care — 

'We Need To Get Them Back'

When I was given the assignment to delve into the story behind the theft of 13 treasures from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum — how did it happen, and why hasn’t it been solved — I knew that my charge would be a complicated one.
I had no idea.
Working with the Globe and my WBUR colleagues on a podcast about the crime, I met mobsters and con men, wily defense lawyers and frustrated former agents. I bounced between Dorchester and Ireland, the Fenway and New York. I spent countless hours with the museum’s head of security, a man whose every waking moment — his voice, his face, his somber demeanor — is made heavy by his obsession with finding the stolen works.
I basked in the live-wire glow of Anne Hawley, the brilliant and elegant former museum director, who sized up the loss of the most valuable paintings with a few unfathomable questions: What if we could never listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony again, or hear Louis Armstrong, or see “Hamlet” performed? Such is the meaning of these missing Rembrandts, the Vermeer and the Manet.
But the most captivating person connected to the largest unsolved art heist in history, someone whose presence I’ve felt every day of this endeavor, is neither a suspect nor a detective. It’s Isabella Stewart Gardner herself.
The French have a term for the descriptive text left in place of art that has been stolen: fantôme. As in, phantom. As in, the ghost of art now gone. Mrs. Gardner knew loss, deep abiding loss, all too well. Which is what makes this robbery, this fantôme, all the more wrenching. To understand Mrs. Gardner, as she is still called at the museum, is to understand what was truly lost on that March night 28 years ago.
Mrs. Gardner was not an unsung presence in the Boston of the late 1800s. She was wealthy, insatiably curious and the life of every party. But I learned that before she was christened “one of the seven wonders of Boston,” before she was described as a “flamelike incarnation of vigor and life” in the thrilling portrait of her by the Swedish painter Anders Zorn, she was nearly done in by death.
Anders Zorn's portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner on display in the museum's Short Gallery. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Anders Zorn's portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner on display in the museum's Short Gallery. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gardner lost her only child, a son she called Jackie, before he was 2 years old. It was the heartbreak of her life. In a photograph that I find harder to look at than any of the museum’s empty frames, Gardner stands behind her sitting baby, holding him up. Jackie looks straight ahead. Gardner smiles into the back of the boy’s downy head. You can practically see her inhaling his perfect baby scent.
In 1867, two years after their son’s death and on doctor’s orders, a wan and bereft Gardner boarded a steamer ship with her husband, John Lowell “Jack” Gardner. Destination: Northern Europe. Travel healed. Beauty redeemed. And every couple of years, they did it again, abandoned Boston for wilder shores and life-affirming art. Angkor Wat. The Nile. Venice. Nothing could bring back a lost baby, but there he seemed to be, in the face of the Christ child in Francisco de Zurbarán’s "The Virgin of Mercy." Gardner bought that painting 23 years after Jackie’s death; she never stopped looking for him.
I don’t claim that every piece in Gardner’s vast collection was somehow connected to her recollected son. Hunting after masterpieces — the thrill of the chase, the ecstasy of possession — became her abiding passion. “I suppose the picture-habit (which I seem to have) is as bad as the morphine or the whiskey one — and it does cost,” she wrote to her collector in Europe in 1896, as she awaited delivery of Titian’s quivering, poignant Rape of Europa, for which she paid a record price of 20,000 pounds. (The Gardner thieves, blessedly, passed on this vast masterwork.)
But the whole of it — the books and tapestries and paintings and sculptures, the Venetian palace she created in which to showcase it — all of it was her bid to vanquish mortality. Death had claimed her only child. It would also take her husband in 1898, just as they prepared to buy the filled-in swampland in the Fens on which her museum would be built.
The spirit may be eternal, but the flesh is not. Leave it to Gardner, then, to have devised a work-around for this earthly inconvenience: a last will and testament that stipulated that her museum’s galleries should be left both “for the education and enjoyment of the public forever,” and also unchanged — nothing removed, nothing added.
“Don’t touch!” an elderly Gardner is recalled as having called out to a passel of visitors crossing her Raphael Room when her museum was still known as Fenway Court. Upon her death, in 1924, Gardner made the sentiment indelible. Nothing would touch or ever alter Isabella Stewart Gardner’s stone-and-stucco monument — until two thieves dressed as police officers did.
No mother loves all of her children the same. Who’s to say which of the 13 lost works would cause Gardner the most anguish? She’d written to her collector of feeling an “ache” for the “sea picture,” as she called Rembrandt’s "Storm on the Sea of Galilee." In acquiring Vermeer’s "The Concert," Gardner established herself as a serious collector, even outbidding the Louvre. But each of the stolen pieces was something she’d chosen and, we can assume, cherished.
There are a few show-stopping images of Isabella Stewart Gardner: that incandescent Zorn; a John Singer Sargent portrait that so well captured Gardner’s natural endowments it prompted her husband, otherwise tolerant of his wife’s many flirtations, to banish it from public view. But that photo — a young mother bashful with bliss — is my touchstone for what Gardner’s collection meant to her and what its 13 missing pieces mean for all of us.
She left them in our care. We need to get them back.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Stolen Art Watch, Judy Garland Ruby Slippers Recovered, Click Three Times, Wish Hard For Gardner Art Recovery

No place like home: 'Wizard of Oz' slippers found after Arizona donor offers reward

A scene from the 1939 classic "The WIzard of Oz." Pictured from left: Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), Jack Haley (Tin Man), Judy Garland (Dorothy) and Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion).
It took 13 years, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation followed the yellow brick road of clues and has recovered a stolen pair of ruby slippers seen in the movie "The Wizard of Oz."
FBI Special Agent Jill Sanborn on Tuesday called the recovery a "significant milestone" at a news conference in Minneapolis. The bureau didn't say whether arrests have been made.
Sanborn said four pairs of ruby slippers are known to exist: A pair at the Smithsonian, a pair owned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a pair belonging to a private party and the recently recovered "traveling pair."
"They are more than just a pair of slippers," said Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Scott Johnson. "They are an enduring symbol of the power of belief."

Stolen in 2005

A pair of ruby slippers, known as the "traveling pair," were recovered by the FBI after disappearing from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota 13 years ago.
Courtesy of: Federal Bureau of Investigation
The shoes were stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The museum is Garland's childhood home.
"The thieves not only took the slippers, they took a piece of history that will be forever connected to Grand Rapids and one of our city's most famous children," Johnson said.
In 2017, a person provided information on the shoes and how they could be returned. Investigators believed the person was trying to extort the shoes' owners, according to a statement.
The FBI aided the investigation with its Art Crime Team, laboratory, and field offices in Chicago, Atlanta and Miami. The bureau said the shoes were found during an undercover operation in Minneapolis.
The shoes were taken to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., to be compared with another pair of ruby slippers.

Arizona reward in play?

Judy Garland as Dorothy, with Toto, in "The Wizard of Oz in 1939.
An anonymous Arizona donor in 2015 had offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the return of the slippers.
Judy Garland Museum Executive Director John Kelsch told The Arizona Republic at the time that the museum would not say whether the donor was from the Phoenix area.
The donor is a fan of Garland and "The Wizard of Oz."
MORE: Ask Clay: Hidden messages in 'Wizard of Oz'
In his The Republic interview, Kelsch said to claim the reward, the tipster must provide the slippers' exact location or have someone personally turn them in. Also, the slippers must be in good condition for authorities to authenticate them and the name of the thief must be provided.
Museum officials couldn't say Tuesday whether the recovery of the shoes fully met those criteria. Officials also didn't provide an update on the reward.

Who stole the shoes?

The FBI is still looking for information on the theft of the slippers. Multiple suspects were identified.
"There are certainly people out there who have additional knowledge regarding both the theft and the individuals responsible for concealing the slippers all these years," FBI Special Agent Christopher Dudley said.
The public is encouraged to provide information on the theft or extortion plot by calling 1-800-225-5324 or submit information online at

Art crimes

U.S. Attorney Chris Myers said the FBI's stolen art list contains about 8,000 art and culture items. Since the creation of the Art Crime team, more than 14,850 items have been recovered.
"There is a certain romance in these types of schemes," Myers said. "Sometimes sophistication, but at the end of the day it is a theft."
In 2017, a painting by Willem de Kooning was recovered at an estate sale in New Mexico. The painting, stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in 1985, is estimated to be worth more than $100 million.

Art Crime

Stolen Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz Recovered
A conservator for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History analyzes one of the ruby slippers that were recovered by the FBI after being stolen in 2005.
Dawn Wallace, a conservator for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, analyzes one of the recovered slippers at the Smithsonian's Conservation Lab in Washington, D.C. (Smithsonian photo)
A pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and stolen from the actress’ namesake museum in Minnesota more than a decade ago has been recovered, the FBI announced today.
The iconic sequined shoes, known as the “traveling pair”—one of at least four pairs used in the film that are still in existence—were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in 2005 and recovered earlier this summer during a sting operation. But the case is far from over.
“From the outset,” said Special Agent Christopher Dudley, who led the investigation from the FBI’s Minneapolis Division, “our top priority was the safe recovery of the slippers.” Although multiple suspects have been identified, Dudley said, “we are still working to ensure that we have identified all parties involved in both the initial theft and the more recent extortion attempt for their return. This is very much an active investigation.”
At a press conference in Minneapolis to announce the recovery, the FBI, along with the Grand Rapids Police Department, asked for the public’s assistance. “There are certainly people out there who have additional knowledge regarding both the theft and the individuals responsible for concealing the slippers all these years.” Dudley said. “We are asking that you come forward.”

Conservators at the National Museum of American History assisted the Minneapolis Division of the FBI in the case of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz that were stolen in Minnesota in 2005. The museum analyzed and compared the recovered slippers with a pair that has been part of the Smithsonian collection since 1979.

“We are still working to ensure that we have identified all parties involved in both the initial theft and the more recent extortion attempt for their return.”

Christopher Dudley, special agent, FBI Minneapolis

Judy Garland, who played Dorothy Gale in the classic fairy tale film enjoyed by generations of moviegoers around the world, wore several pairs of the red slippers during the movie’s production, dancing her way down the yellow brick road and, at the story’s end, clicking her heels three times and repeating, “There’s no place like home.” The slippers are widely considered to be one of the most recognizable pieces of memorabilia in American film history, and are estimated to be worth several million dollars.
The star’s childhood house in Grand Rapids was turned into a museum in 1975 and remains a repository of The Wizard of Oz artifacts and memorabilia. The slippers disappeared from there in the early morning hours of August 28, 2005, and the crime has weighed heavily on the community, whose identity is proudly associated with Garland’s birthplace.
Despite a vigorous investigation by local authorities at the time, the slippers were not located, and no arrests were made. When the theft occurred, said Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Scott Johnson during today’s announcement, “the thieves not only took the slippers, they took a piece of history that will be forever connected to Grand Rapids and one of our city’s most famous children.”
In the summer of 2017, 12 years after the theft, an individual approached the company that insured the slippers, saying he had information about the shoes and how they could be returned. “When it became apparent that those involved were in reality attempting to extort the owners of the slippers,” Dudley explained, Grand Rapids police requested the FBI’s assistance. After nearly a yearlong investigation—with invaluable assistance from the FBI’s Art Crime Team, the FBI Laboratory, and field offices in Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami—the slippers were recovered during an undercover operation in Minneapolis.

These iconic sequined shoes, known as the “traveling pair”—one of at least four pairs used in The Wizard of Oz that are still in existence—were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in 2005 and recovered earlier this summer during a sting operation.

Agents from the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office transported the recovered slippers to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.—where another pair of the ruby slippers has been on display since 1979—for analysis and comparison.
Dawn Wallace, a Smithsonian conservator who has been working for the past two years to conserve the museum’s ruby slippers, which are nearly 80 years old, said a careful analysis led to the conclusion that the recovered shoes were similar in construction, materials, and condition to the museum’s pair. And it turns out the recovered shoes and the pair in the museum’s collection are mismatched twins.
Smithsonian curator Ryan Lintelman, who specializes in American film history, explained that there were probably six or more pairs of the slippers made for The Wizard of Oz. “It was common that you would create multiple copies of costumes and props,” he said. Somehow over the years, the pairs of shoes were mixed up.
Lintelman added that the Smithsonian’s ruby slippers “are among the most requested objects by visitors to the museum. There is an emotional response that visitors have,” he said. “People’s eyes light up.”
“Recovering a cultural item of this importance is significant,” the FBI’s Dudley noted. “So many people of all ages around the world have seen The Wizard of Oz and in that way have some connection to the slippers. That’s one of the things that makes this case resonate with so many.”
Anyone with additional information regarding the theft of the ruby slippers or the extortion plot is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or submit information online at

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth

Art Hostage aka Turbo Paul having a chit-chat with Tim and Lance on Empty Frames podcast about the Gardner Art Heist and how to recover the stolen Gardner art.
Empty Frames podcast

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Fraud Goes Right To The Core, Fake Investigation, Fake Reward, Fake Immunity

Man guilty in Gardner painting fraud scam sentenced

A West Virginia man who pleaded guilty to a wire fraud scam purporting to sell paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was sentenced yesterday.
Todd Andrew Desper was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to time served and three years of supervised release, three months of which will be spent in home confinement, according to an announcement by U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division.
Desper’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to an email.
Prosecutors said Desper, acting under the pseudonym “Mordokwan,” solicited foreign buyers on Craigslist for Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and Vermeer’s “The Concert,” two paintings he claimed were among 13 stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.
According to prosecutors, the security director for the Gardner Museum engaged in encrypted communications with Desper in an attempt to determine whether he had access to the stolen masterpieces. During the email exchange, Desper instructed the security director to send a cashier’s check for $5 million to a location in West Virginia. In return, “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” would then be sent, concealed behind another painting.
Investigators were ultimately able to determine that Desper had no access to the artwork, or any information about the notorious heist, but was instead engaged in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme targeting foreign art buyers.

Desper pleaded guilty to wire fraud in February.
The FBI has said two suspects who masqueraded as police officers to rob the museum of $500 million worth of masterpieces are dead.
Federal authorities were notified of the foreign Craigslist notices by individuals seeking to assist in the recovery of the artwork, as well as those seeking the multi-million dollar reward offered by the museum.
Why No Gardner Art Recovery
Making public an unsubstantiated narrative that the Gardner Heist was by local Boston criminal gangs was somehow supposed to help get the art back, but what's left of these gangs are less inclined to cooperate with authorities for a shot at the reward than ever.

These Boston gang leftovers, along with anyone who could help recover the Gardner art do not, and have never, believed the offers of Immunity and Reward and both were designed to decieve.

Anyone who has stepped forward and tried to negociate a Gardner art recovery has been hounded, jailed and their life destroyed, whether deserved or not by their criminal lifestyle.

Everytime someone stepped forward they were led like Lambs to the slaughter, told there is only one deal, give up everything they know to authorities, be prepared to testify against those involved in the Gardner case and just hope and pray the Gardner Museum takes pity and decides to give a nominal reward, never millions of dollars as claimed.

What incentive does that give anyone who could really provide a Gardner art recovery?
The Immunity and reward offers have never been scrutinised and no journalist has dared to question the validity of either the Immunity or Reward offers.
Art Hostage Comments:
It matters not what Art Hostage believes about the validity of the Immunity and Reward offers in the Gardner Art Heist case. The people who need convincing are those who hold or know the location of the Gardner art.
Until these people feel confident they can hand back the stolen Gardner art, collect the reward and not face scrutiny of authorities, the only Gardner recovery effort in town is one of seeking an informant to give a location of the Gardner art.
That has not worked for twenty eights years and counting.
I wish the Gardner Museum and authorities would just state clearly they will not allow the Gardner art to be handed back, reward paid in full, and no scrutiny of those handing back the Gardner art.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Case, One Narrative, One Offer, Only Informants Wanted

Amore to speak about Gardner Museum heist in Hingham

How the theft was carried out and where the painting might possibly be at this moment will be a few of the topics covered when Anthony Amore visits the Hingham Community Center on Wednesday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m.
The world-acclaimed Gardner Museum in Boston is unique. With most world-class art museums people flock to stare at historic paintings by master artists. But at the Gardner Museum a good number of ticket-buyers come to stare at empty frames... and a slice of New England folklore.
In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as police officers entered the Gardner Museum and stole 13 works of art by world-renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet, and Degas. The works, including Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Concert, are worth more than $500 million. This remains the biggest unsolved art theft in world history.
The Museum is offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the stolen works. It’s important to note the reward is for recovering the paintings, not the apprehension of the thieves. This is also the priority of Anthony Amore, Security Director for the Gardner Museum.
“Speaking for the museum, we just want our paintings back,” Amore said in a recent interview with Boston magazine. “I would work as hard as can you can imagine to make sure that the people who come forward, that their names are never exposed. We have methods to do that, to pay the reward, so the person who gets it isn’t named publicly.”
How the theft was carried out and where the painting might possibly be at this moment will be a few of the topics covered when Anthony Amore visits the Hingham Community Center on Wednesday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Twenty-eight years after the artwork was stolen, the museum’s security chief thinks he knows who did it. What has him stumped is where the paintings are now. “The idea of a professional art thief, a cat burglar who goes and steals masterpieces, is fiction,” said Amore. “It has nothing to do with people who want art for their collection. It’s people stealing these things for money.”
In 2011, Amore spun off his historic art-crime research into his book Stealing Rembrandts, co-authored with journalist Tom Mashberg. Hardly any thieves who steal a masterpiece ever do it again, Amore says, because they quickly discover they’re stuck with it. “If you steal hugely recognizable art, you can’t fence it,” Amore says. “One small piece of information could end this tomorrow.”
Despite some promising leads in the past, the Gardner theft of 1990 remains unsolved. The Museum, the FBI, and the US Attorney’s office are still seeking viable leads that could result in safe return of the art. Any little bit of information can help. “I’m not looking for someone necessarily to call me and say, ‘Go to Locker 3 in this storage facility,’” Amore said in his interview. “It’s like you put this puzzle together, you start with the borders, and people are giving you pieces.
“If you do puzzles, most of the time, there’s this one piece that’s just like, now it’s all falling together,” he adds. “So I’m not necessarily looking for the big aha! moment. I’m looking for the small aha!moments that I can piece together.”
Tickets to hear Anthony Amore speak at the Hingham Community Center are now on sale at $10 and are available online at, by phone at 781-749-9786, and at the Hingham Community Center at 70 South Street in Hingham.