Mobster Suspected Of Knowing About Art Heist Indicted On Drug Charges
Federal Authorities Believe Robert Gentile, Of Manchester, Knows Whereabouts Of Paintings Taken In 1990 Museum Theft
Federal prosecutors signaled Monday that they may try to confiscate mobster Robert Gentile's Manchester home after indicting him and a partner for the illegal sale of prescription painkillers.
Outside of a forfeiture allegation directed at Gentile's suburban ranch and $22,000 in cash hidden in a grandfather clock, the indictment made public Monday by federal prosecutors appears to formalize the drug charges on which Gentile and partner Andrew Parente were arrested earlier in the month.
The Feb. 10 arrest of Gentile, 75, created a stir in legal circles because of the relatively small amount of illegal narcotics involved in the alleged sales and because law enforcement authorities suspect he may have information concerning the spectacular 1990 theft of hundreds of millions of dollars of paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
Three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, a Manet and five drawings by Degas were among the works that vanished in the Gardner heist — the biggest art theft ever and, nearly 22 years later, one of the most baffling. Investigators assigned to the unsolved heist have encountered nothing but dead ends.
Two of the stolen paintings — "Storm on the Sea of Galilee," Rembrandt's only known seascape, and Vermeer's "The Concert" — could be worth than $50 million each in an open market. All the stolen artworks might be worth $300 million or more. But because of the notoriety of the missing pieces, any kind of sale would be difficult, if not impossible, to arrange.
Gentile, a made or sworn member of the Mafia, has repeatedly denied having knowledge of the theft or of the location of the paintings, according to sources. He is known to have associated with crime figures in Boston but was inducted into the Mafia through a faction of the Genovese crime family in Philadelphia, according to a variety of sources.
Documents detailing the drug charges against Gentile and Parente remained sealed to the public Monday. The six-count indictment made public by the U.S. Attorney's office accuses the two men of conspiring to possess and distribute prescription painkillers such as oxycodone. Parente, who lives in Hartford, has been a suspect in drug sales for decades, police sources said.
Parente is named in two counts of the indictment, charged with conspiracy to sell drugs and the sale of oxycodone in November. Gentile is named in all six counts related to drug sales.
All but one of the drug offenses allegedly took place in October and November.
Gentile was charged with a drug offense on Feb. 10, the date FBI agents discovered a relatively small amount of apparently illegally obtained pain medication during a search of his home. But the same search turned up what a federal judge called a "veritable arsenal" of weapons, including guns and silencers. The $22,000 in cash was found hidden with a set of brass knuckles.
A federal judge characterized Gentile as dangerous, based on an inventory of the search, and ordered him held without bail.
It is a crime for a convicted felon, such as Gentile, to possess weapons. He has not been charged with weapons offenses, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
The forfeiture count in the indictment applies only to Gentile. It seeks to allow the government to confiscate property or money attributed to criminal activity. The forfeiture specifically lists Gentile's home and cash discovered during the search of his home.
Art Hostage Comments:
Like most things surrounding the infamous Gardner Art Heist of 1990, this latest estimation of the value of two stolen Gardner artworks, Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea and Vermeer's The Concert is way off the true value.
Proof being the price of $250 million paid recently by the Qatar Royal family for a version of Paul Cezanne's "Card Players", meaning the Gardner Museum's Vermeer has to be worth much more, or at the very least on par, $250 million. Same with the Rembrandt Storm on the Sea, his only seascape, again $250 million would be a reasonable estimate.
Paul Cezanne Card Players Sold: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/02/qatar-buys-cezanne-card-players-201202
To further show just how undervalued the Gardner Museum's missing Rembrandt and Vermeer are we only need to look at the estimate for a version of the Edmund Munch "Scream" being offered for sale at Sotheby's later this year, which carries an estimate of $80 million.
Scream For Sale: http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/8154.aspx
As to Robert Gentile, well he has got what William Youngworth got back in the 1990's when he offered to recover the Gardner Art.
The FBI over-egging relatively minor charges to put pressure on.
William Youngworth served three years plus in jail without breaking.
Robert Gentile can expect the same treatment and because of his advancing years the likelihood is he will die in jail, not because of the possession of painkillers, but the allegations of him having knowledge about the Gardner Art Heist and the current whereabouts of the art.
So, for anyone who may have information about the Gardner art heist, this is what awaits, this is the reality, no if's, not buts, no deals.