Lawyer: Agents searching home for art stolen in Gardner Museum heist
MANCHESTER, Conn.— Law enforcement agents swarmed the home of a reputed Connecticut mobster who authorities believe has information on an infamous unsolved art heist in Boston.
A lawyer for 75-year-old Robert Gentile says authorities searched Gentile’s home in Manchester on Thursday under a new warrant allowing the use of ground-penetrating radar.
The lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, says the warrant shows the FBI is looking for weapons, but McGuigan believes they’re looking for paintings stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Thieves in the heist stole a half billion dollars’ worth of works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet.
McGuigan says Gentile doesn’t know anything about the art heist and believes authorities won’t find anything on his client’s property.
Gentile currently is detained on federal weapons and prescription drug charges.
Lawyer: Feds digging up mobster’s yard in hunt for Gardner paintings
FBI agents, bloodhounds, beagles and a ferret are swarming the backyard of a reputed Connecticut mobster hunting for the long-lost Gardner Museum masterworks, the alleged gangster’s lawyer told the Herald this morning.
Agents are executing a search-and-seizure warrant to look for guns at the Manchester, Conn., home and property of 75-year-old Robert Gentile, but “they’re looking for paintings,” said defense attorney Ryan McGuigan. “We all know what they’re really looking for.”
He said he got a call around 7:30 a.m. that agents were on the scene. Investigators are using three bloodhounds, two beagles, a ferret and ground-penetrating technology as they dig up Gentile’s yard, McGuigan said.
Gentile, who prosecutors say has ties to crime families in Philadelphia and Boston, is detained on federal drug and weapons charges.
A federal prosecutor said in March the FBI believes Gentile knows something about the theft in 1990 of 13 masterworks from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The pieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet are worth more than a half-billion dollars.
McGuigan maintains his client has no idea who took the paintings or where they are, and said he believes his client was “set up” on drug charges solely to get a warrant to search his property.
Authorities are going to find “nothing but worms,” he said. “It won’t be fruitless if they’re going to open up a baitshop. They’re going to have plenty of nightcrawlers to sell.”
In February, federal authorities arrested Gentile and another man on charges of conspiring to sell prescription painkillers. In March, he unsuccessfully argued for bail from the Wyatt Detention Center, where he’s being held, after prosecutors said they found a cache of weapons and $22,000 inside his Manchester home.
“They’re treating him like a dog,” said Patricia Gentile, Robert Gentile’s wife, in an interview in March. “I don’t know anything about the pictures, and they keep thinking I do. But you know, it’s the FBI. They have the power.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment.