Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, With Tom and Joe it Could be "Way To Go" !!

Real life Donnie Brasco vows to find £250m stolen art haul
Mar 25 2008 By Paul O'Hare

TWO retired FBI agents are joining forces to crack one of the biggest cold cases in American history.

Art theft expert Thomas McShane has teamed up with Joe Pistone, top, - the real-life Donnie Brasco - in an attempt to recover £250million worth of art stolen from a Boston museum 18 years ago.

Two men wearing fake moustaches and dressed as police officers got away with 11 masterpieces from the Isabella Gardner Museum on St Patrick's Day, 1990.

Despite a £2.5million reward, the case remains unsolved.

McShane, who recovered artworks worth more than £450million during a remarkable career, said: "I feel like we have had egg on our faces for 18 years."

Among the remarkable haul stolen in the raid was Rembrandt's Christ On The Sea of Galilee, worth £50million, and one of the few remaining Vermeers, The Concert.

McShane said: "Who were the thieves?

"Who, if anyone, were they working for?

"Why did they take what they did and leave behind a wide array of historic masterpieces that might have doubled or tripled the value of their haul?

"Most of all, where are those 11 irreplaceable paintings, drawings and etchings today, and why hasn't a single one surfaced in nearly two decades?"

He said one of the most bizarre aspects of the theft is why Titian's The Rape Of Europa, which was hanging nearby and is worth £150million, was not taken.

Pistone spent six years undercover with the New York mafia, assuming the identity of jewel thief Donnie Brasco. He was played by Johnny Depp in the film of the same name.

He and McShane, who also assumed various identities to crack cases, are prepared to go undercover again to find the missing artworks.

There have been several theories about the robbery and suspicion has fallen on both the IRA and the UVF.

Last April, McShane, author of Loot: Inside The World Of Stolen Art, told the Record that the gang behind the theft of a £30million masterpiece from a Scottish castle would never cash in on it.

Six months later, The Madonna And The Yarnwinder was recovered in a Glasgow lawyer's office.

Five men have been arrested in connection with the theft of the painting from Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire, in 2003.

Art Hostage comments:

Whilst trying not to dampen the enthusiasm of these two giants in Law Enforcement circles, it has to be understood that those who control the Vermeer and co are not adverse to being stung.

Knowing who has control of the stolen Gardner art is not that difficult, getting them to return the art is the hard part.

Upon another note and worth noting, because the pursuit of the Gardner art has attracted many Underworld figures, if the art is returned, then those who claim the reward will be pursued by the Underworld for their cut.

So, it is fear of reprisals from the Underworld that could be preventing the Gardner art from surfacing.

Then do the deal out of sight I hear you ask.

Problem with that is the sting attempts out of the spotlight, hence why the Catholic church confession box and the reward claim by the Catholic priest publicly is the best option.

However, there still remains the problem for the reward claimant being hounded by the Underworld for their share of the reward under duress.

So, bottom line is, yes law enforcement will sting those with the Gardner art if they get a chance, it is their job after all.

The Underworld has been looking to get in on the act of the Gardner art and has issued demands to the handlers that have prevented the Gardner art from surfacing.

A classic Catch 22, whereby the Gardner art handlers are dammed if they hand back the art, from the underworld, and dammed from the wider public world if they don't hand back the Gardner art.

Art Hostage has been told that those with the Vermeer are more concerned if they hand back the Vermeer via a confession box, the underworld will demand payment, than any refusal of payment to them via the Catholic priest.

The Vermeer handlers have said the situation could arise whereby the Vermeer is handed back, Confession box, Priest claim, then a delay in reward payment will be met by the underworld with the words:

"Not paid for the Vermeer, Fuck you pay me !!"

So, the Vermeer handlers will be left without the Vermeer and an underworld debt !!

Best of luck Tom and Joe, remember the guys you will be dealing with will torture you if they suspect and then chop you up before going out for a Calzone !!

1 comment:

Mc Shane ret FBI Art Agent said...

Thanks so much . Anniversary is coming up so keep up your good work !