Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Stolen Art Watch, Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Bobby Gentile's Deathbed Omerta Denies His Lawyer Bumper Payday

Accused mobster, near death, denies ties to Boston art heist-lawyer

An accused mobster on what may be his death bed once again denied knowing anything about the whereabouts of paintings stolen from a Boston museum in the largest art heist in U.S. history, his lawyer said on Saturday.
Robert Gentile, 80, faces charges of selling a loaded firearm to a convicted killer. His attorney contends the case was brought to pressure him into leading federal agents to paintings stolen from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.
Attorney Ryan McGuigan said he visited Gentile in South Carolina this week after being advised by federal officials to tell Gentile's wife, also 80 and in ill health, and son, in his early 50s, to prepare for the possibility of the man's death.
"I told him that if there ever was a time to give up some information that you haven't yet, that I don't know, this would be it," McGuigan said in a phone interview. He said he believed that if Gentile were to offer up new information about the paintings, federal officials would allow him to see his family in Connecticut.

"He said, 'Yeah, but there's no painting,'" McGuigan said. "His story has never changed in the six years that I have represented him."
A spokesman for federal prosecutors in Connecticut declined to comment. McGuigan said he could not provide more detail on where Gentile is being held.
Gentile had been due to stand trial last month on the gun charge, but his failing health delayed proceedings. He has repeatedly denied knowing the whereabouts of any of the art taken in one of the longest-unsolved high-profile crimes in Boston.
The theft was carried out by two men dressed in police uniforms who apparently overpowered a night security guard who had buzzed them in a back entrance. None of the 13 artworks, which include Rembrandt's "Storm on the Sea of Galilee" and Vermeer's "The Concert," has been recovered.
Due to a quirk in Gardner's will, the empty frames that held the paintings remain on the walls of the museum she built to house the collection she amassed with her husband.
The art must be displayed the way it was during her lifetime, preventing curators from hanging new works and leaving a constant reminder of the theft.

At a court hearing last year, federal prosecutors said Gentile was secretly recorded telling an undercover FBI agent he had access to at least two of the paintings and could sell them for $500,000 each.
A 2012 FBI search of Gentile's home turned up a handwritten list of the stolen art, its estimated value and police uniforms, according to court documents.

Art Hostage Comments:
What Bobby Gentile's Lawyer, Attorney Ryan McGuigan, fails to reveal is the signed deal he has with his client Bobby Gentile, giving him personally at least 40% of the $5 million reward if the Gardner paintings are ever recovered.
Bobby Gentile knows this full well and therefore, he might pass away without revealing what he actually knows about the whereabouts of the Gardner art.
However, I am sure Bobby Gentile has made provisions for his nearest and dearest to have those facts, so they may be in a position to utilise them after Bobby Gentile leaves this mortal coil.
Whether the remaining members of the Gentile family are bound by the signed agreement between Bobby Gentile and Attorney Ryan McGuigan remains to be seen, but the 40% plus demands of
Attorney Ryan McGuigan could be counter productive and be the very reason why Bobby Gentile, or his family would not be willing to expose themselves to Law Enforcement scrutiny in pursuit of the Gardner art reward.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist Sept 2016

Reputed Mobster In Hospital After Prison Fall, Trial Delayed

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A reputed Connecticut mobster who authorities believe has information about the largest art heist in U.S. history remains hospitalized after being injured in jail, and his trial on weapons charges has been postponed.
A lawyer for Robert Gentile of Manchester said Friday that Gentile remains hospitalized “in bad shape” after he fell last month at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

The lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, says jury selection that was scheduled to begin Tuesday in federal court in Hartford has been postponed indefinitely.
A tent set up by the FBI outside Robert Gentile's home on May 2, 2016. (Image credit A. Ryan McGuigan)
A tent set up by the FBI outside Robert Gentile’s home on May 2, 2016.
Prosecutors believe Gentile knows something about the still-unsolved, 1990 theft of $500 million worth of artwork from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, because another gangster’s widow claimed her husband gave Gentile two of the paintings.
Gentile has denied knowing anything about the theft.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Bobby, Bobby, & Bobby, Luisi, Guarente & Gentile

Notorious Boston mobster-turned-pastor has clues about Gardner heist
Alonso Esposito, a former Boston mobster, reflected on the spiritual conversion he experienced that led him to establish his ministry. He was photographed in his Memphis, Tenn., home on June 27.
Karen Pulfer Focht for The Boston Globe
Alonso Esposito, a former Boston mobster, reflected on the spiritual conversion he experienced that led him to establish his ministry. He was photographed in his Memphis, Tenn., home on June 27.
MEMPHIS – A notorious Boston mobster who disappeared into the federal witness protection program has resurfaced in Tennessee with a new identity, a new life, and a tantalizing clue involving the world’s largest art heist.
In this city on the Mississippi, he’s known as Alonso Esposito, a tall, charismatic man with graying hair and a Boston accent who self-published a paperback about the Bible and volunteers as a pastor at a nondenominational church.
But in the 1990s, as Mafia capo Robert “Bobby” Luisi Jr., he ran a crew of wiseguys, based in Greater Boston, that included two men suspected by the FBI of stashing $500 million worth of masterworks stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.
In a series of interviews from his Memphis home, the 55-year-old Luisi revealed that one of those associates, Robert “Unc” Guarente, told him years ago that the stolen Gardner paintings were buried beneath a home in Florida.
The two were alone in the late 1990s at a Waltham apartment they used as a “safehouse,” watching a television segment about the Gardner theft, according to Luisi, when Guarente confided that he knew where the artwork was. In Florida, he said, under a concrete floor.
“He wanted to know if I knew where we could sell it,” Luisi said.
Luisi, who was running a lucrative cocaine trafficking ring at the time and involved in a bloody turf war with rival mobsters, said he told Guarente that he didn’t know anybody who could fence stolen artwork.
“I knew I couldn’t move it,” Luisi said. “I didn’t want to get involved in it.”
Guarente, who died in 2004 at age 64, never offered the precise Florida location where the masterworks were supposedly buried, according to Luisi, and the pair never discussed it again.
Luisi said he told FBI agents about Guarente’s claim in 2012 when they visited him in prison, where he was serving 15 years for cocaine trafficking. He said they questioned him about the possibility that Guarente and another mobster, Robert “The Cook” Gentile, tried to sell the stolen artwork in Philadelphia years earlier.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on Luisi’s account or whether it prompted any digging in Florida for the stolen masterpieces, citing the ongoing investigation focused on recovering the artwork. A year after the FBI interview, Luisi finished his prison term and entered witness protection in exchange for testifying against a former Boston mob associate.
Alonso Esposito prayed with the congregation at Faith Keepers Ministry in Memphis on June 26.
Karen Pulfer Focht for The Boston Globe
Alonso Esposito prayed with the congregation at Faith Keepers Ministry in Memphis on June 26.
The Gardner theft remains unsolved decades after two men dressed as police officers talked their way into the elegant museum on the Fenway shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, tied up two guards and disappeared with 13 masterworks. None have been recovered, despite a $5 million reward and promises of immunity. They include three Rembrandts — including his only seascape, “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” — and a Vermeer.
In 2013, the FBI announced it was confident it had identified the two thieves, both now deceased, but declined to name them, citing the ongoing investigation. Gentile, 80, is in jail while awaiting trial on federal gun charges.
Authorities said they believed some of the artwork changed hands through organized crime circles, and moved from Boston to Connecticut and Philadelphia, where the trail went cold in 2003.
‘I am certain that we’d have noticed if we’d come across anything valuable, like paintings by Rembrandt.’
Robert Thornley, on the home his company demolished 
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Sitting in the kitchen of his ranch-style home on a quiet street with manicured lawns, Luisi, who was affiliated with the Philadelphia mob family, spoke freely in late June about his notorious past and about the dream of a new life that prompted him to leave the safe haven of the witness protection program.
“I’m just not afraid,” said Luisi, who said he wanted to come out of hiding so he could promote his ministry and religious book, The Last Generation. “My faith is so strong in God.”
Luisi, who grew up in Boston’s North End and East Boston, has his own website,, and is on YouTube and Facebook. He’s also working on an autobiography, “From Capo to Christian,” and said he hopes his transformation might inspire others.
Luisi’s path from Mafioso to government witness was a tortured one. After his 1999 arrest on drug charges, he agreed to cooperate against mobsters from Boston to Philadelphia and confessed to ordering the 1997 murder of a rival Boston gangster.
But Luisi changed his mind about cooperating and was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison for cocaine trafficking.
Luisi said he was, nevertheless, happy to talk to the FBI about the Gardner. He said he told them that Gentile, of Manchester, Conn., never discussed the stolen artwork with him, but as a soldier in the Philadelphia family, Gentile would have had the authority to negotiate a deal with organized crime figures in that city.
The FBI has searched Guarente’s property in Maine, and Gentile’s property in Connecticut, repeatedly.
During a brief telephone conversation, Guarente’s widow, Elene, said she was unaware of any Florida property connected to her husband, “but he was always traveling one place or another without telling me where he was going.”
Maine State Police records indicate that Guarente listed a lakeside home in Orlando as his residence for several years in the early 1990s. The single-family home, built on a concrete slab in 1980, was torn down in 2007.
“I am certain that we’d have noticed if we’d come across anything valuable, like paintings by Rembrandt,” said Robert Thornley, whose company did the demolition.
A developer, John Gigliotti, who removed an underground pool from the property last year, said he didn’t turn up anything memorable during the excavation.
Esposito checked himself in a mirror before leaving for church.
Karen Pulfer Focht for The Boston Globe
Esposito checked himself in a mirror before leaving for church.
Federal authorities have been focusing on Gentile since 2010, when Elene Guarente told the FBI that her husband gave two of the stolen paintings to Gentile during a rendezvous in Maine before his death.
Gentile, 80, was ensnared in an FBI sting last year and is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 13 in Hartford on the gun charges. He insists he doesn’t know anything about the stolen artwork, though he acknowledged in a 2014 Globe interview that he and Guarente talked about trying to recover the paintings so they could collect the reward.
But, a federal prosecutor revealed in court that Gentile last year offered to sell the paintings for $500,000 each to an undercover FBI agent. He also flunked a polygraph exam when he denied that he knew about plans to rob the Gardner museum beforehand and when he denied that he had the paintings or knew where they were, according to the prosecutor.
“He is a sick old man and in my opinion showing signs of dementia,” said Gentile’s attorney, A. Ryan McGuigan. “He sincerely wishes the paintings to be returned to the museum, but he simply had no information as to their whereabouts.”
Brian T. Kelly, a former federal prosecutor who worked on the Gardner theft investigation until 2013 and is now a partner at Nixon Peabody, declined to comment on information provided by Luisi, but said, “He certainly would be in a good position to know about the Guarente crew, as well as the Philly mob.”
The New England Mafia was in disarray in the 1990s, battered by prosecutions and a violent power struggle between warring factions. Luisi was even feuding with his own father, Robert Luisi Sr., who was shot to death by two rivals in 1995 in the infamous 99 Restaurant massacre in Charlestown, along with Luisi’s brother, cousin and another man.
Luisi said his bid to become a “made man” in the New England Mafia was blocked by a capo. In a rare and bold move, Luisi asked to join the Philadelphia family, which made him a capo in 1998 and let him operate his cocaine trafficking business out of Boston in exchange for tribute.
Luisi’s goal was to create his own family in Boston, with Guarente as his underboss and Gentile as his consigliere.
Luisi said he was staying at the Waltham “safehouse” with Guarente on weekdays in the late 1990s, when he introduced him to Gentile, and that Gentile frequently stayed there and did the cooking. Guarente and Luisi used the two-story townhouse to hide from their mob rivals before going home for weekends.
When Luisi was released from prison in 2013, he was placed in the witness protection program in exchange for testifying later that year against Enrico Ponzo, a former Boston mob associate.
Luisi described himself at the trial as a man who had found God in March 1998, but said he felt he couldn't shed his mob ties at that time.
“How could you go out and say, ‘I’m with Christ,’” Luisi said in an interview. “They’ll kill me.”
Luisi credits God with leading him to his new life in Tennessee, where he settled three years ago. He has a new wife, Julie, a mother of three who works as an IT manager. She said she was flabbergasted, but undaunted when Luisi revealed his past on their second date. She married him 21 months ago and calls him the love of her life.
Prophet Gerald Coleman Sr., the bishop at Faith Keepers Ministries in Memphis, which has about 300 members, said he has known Luisi for more than a year and felt comfortable making him a pastor at the church several months ago.
“He’s told me something of his past but I know I don’t know everything bad that happened with him,” Coleman said. “But I do know that he is a man of God who has studied God’s word.”
Coleman, who was impressed by Luisi’s 210-page book, “The Last Generation,” said, “I consider myself a good judge of character, and everything I see with Alonso tells me he wants to serve this church and its members and he has our interests closest to his heart.”
Luisi said he began working on the book when he was still in prison, earning his theology diploma online and teaching Bible courses to fellow inmates.
And even though Luisi said he wants his past identity to be known, so people understand his journey, he plans on keeping his new name.
“I like Alonso a lot better than I like Bobby,” he said. “He’s a much better person.”

Monday, May 02, 2016

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, FBI Heads Back To Gentile Home For Underground Radar Scan, May 2016

Guns Found In 3rd FBI Search Of Mobster's Manchester Home; Mystery Of Missing Art Remains
Federal agents found more guns — including a machine gun — during a search earlier this week of Robert Gentile's house, giving law enforcement more to use as pressure against an aging gangster many believe holds the key to learning the fate of a half billion dollars in missing art, sources said.
A caravan of FBI agents descended on Gentile's suburban ranch in Manchester Monday, searching behind walls and cutting open oil tanks in the hunt for clues to a fortune in rare art that vanished mysteriously 26 years ago after a midnight heist at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
What the agents found was not art, but a Mac 11 machine gun, a .22 caliber handgun, a small Walther handgun, a silencer, ammunition and what was inexplicably noted on a law enforcement report as a piece of wood. The purported target of the search warrant was the art — 13 masterpieces including two Rembrandts and a Vermeer stolen by thieves disguised as police officers, one of the sources said.
The U.S. attorney's office said it will not discuss the search. Gentile's lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, said it is part of the FBI's effort to pressure Gentile into providing information about the missing art — information the lawyer said Gentile does not have.
It was the third time FBI agents searched Gentile's home over the last four years, hauling away truckloads of items that included a list of the stolen Gardner pieces with corresponding black market values, cash, drugs, a rare stuffed kestrel and a pair of enormous elephant tusks. Agents found guns and ammunition during each search, causing a judge, after one of the searches, to exclaim that the tidy little home on Frances Drive contained "a veritable arsenal."
Gentile — overweight, in declining health and confined to a wheelchair — is being held in a federal jail outside Providence while awaiting trial in July on charges that he sold a gun and ammunition to a convicted three-time murderer.
The newest search is certain to lead to new charges and additional prison time if he is convicted. As a previously convicted felon, Gentile faces enhanced sentencing if convicted of a weapons possession charge.
Gentile has been a law enforcement target since 2010, when the widow of a fellow gangster said she was present when her husband gave two of the stolen Gardner paintings to Gentile before his death about six or seven years earlier. The unexpected admission made Gentile, until then viewed by law enforcement as an unremarkable Hartford swindler, the subject of extraordinary law enforcement pressure.
Since 2010, information from a variety of sources, including Gentile's own words in secret FBI surveillance recordings, has contributed to an investigative theory that Gentile is a member of a dwindling number of aging New England gangsters who had some association with the art after the March 18, 1990, heist.

FBI search does not uncover stolen Gardner paintings, attorney says

MANCHESTER, Conn. — The FBI did not recover any of the 13 masterworks stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum during a search Monday of a Connecticut mobster’s home and an old oil drum buried in his yard, according to the man’s lawyer.
However, after ripping up carpeting, wall paneling, and part of the ceiling in Robert Gentile’s ranch-style house on Frances Drive, agents found several guns, ammunition, and a silencer, according to several people familiar with the search.
The discovery could lead to new charges against 80-year-old Gentile, who has been identified by authorities as a person of interest in the heist. He is in jail awaiting trial in July in federal court in Hartford on charges of selling a gun to a convicted felon.
“I spoke to my client today and, again, he has no information about any paintings,” Gentile’s attorney, A. Ryan McGuigan, said Tuesday.
A search warrant provided to Gentile’s wife, who was at home during the search, indicated the FBI was looking for the 13 pieces of artwork stolen from the Gardner Museum in 1990 and also for firearms, McGuigan said.
“As far as I can tell, they found nothing from the Gardner Museum,” said McGuigan, noting that none of the artwork was included on an inventory list provided to the Gentiles following the search.
Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Boston office, declined to comment Tuesday on the search or what led to it.
It was the third search by the FBI of Gentile’s home since 2012. According to McGuigan, during Monday’s day-long search agents pulled up carpeting, tore paneling from the walls in the basement, cut holes into studs throughout the house and removed portions of the ceiling.
“The house is torn apart,” McGuigan said. “This has been a four-year odyssey with no foreseeable end.”
The FBI also dug up an old oil tank next to Gentile’s house. Agents were observed lowering a camera inside the tank on Monday in an apparent effort to determine whether anything was hidden inside.
A neighbor said the Gentiles disposed of the tank after they converted their home from oil to natural gas about 10 years ago.
A prosecutor revealed in court earlier this year that authorities believe Gentile knows the whereabouts of the $500 million worth of masterworks stolen from the Gardner Museum because he has been plotting for more than a decade to try to sell them.
Two men disguised as police officers talked their way into the museum on Boston’s Fenway in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, tied up two guards, and disappeared with 13 masterworks. They include three works by Rembrandt, a Vermeer, a Manet, and a Flinck.
In January, a federal prosecutor told a judge in Connecticut that Gentile told at least three people he had access to the paintings.
McGuigan said Gentile was “just pretending” to have the paintings.
Federal prosecutors have alleged that Gentile offered to sell the paintings to an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as a drug dealer, for $500,000 apiece in 2015, but that deal collapsed. As a result of that sting, Gentile was charged with the weapons charge he is now facing.
The FBI began focusing on Gentile in 2009 when the wife of another person of interest in the theft, Robert Guarente, told agents that her late husband gave two of the stolen paintings to Gentile before he died in 2004, according to the government.
Gentile flunked a polygraph in 2012 when the FBI asked if he knew about plans to rob the Gardner Museum beforehand and whether he had possession of the stolen paintings or knew where they were, a prosecutor said in court.
However, McGuigan has said that if Gentile knew where the paintings were, he would return them and collect the $5 million reward being offered by the museum for their safe recovery.
One of Gentile’s neighbors said Tuesday that she was annoyed by the disruption caused by the latest search.
“This is a big waste of taxpayer money,” said the neighbor, Linda Gilbert, who had been on hand when the FBI arrived and raided Gentile’s home twice before. She first thought the commotion Monday was a wedding, then realized it was another visit from the FBI.
“Just leave these people alone. They’re elderly. Just stop,” she said, adding she was particularly concerned about Gentile’s elderly wife. “I feel sorry for her because this is the third time now. Something like this could make the poor lady have a heart attack.’’
FBI Searching Mobster Robert Gentile's Manchester Home
Numerous unmarked law enforcement vehicles surrounded the Frances Drive home of reputed gangster Robert Gentile. Authorities suspect Gentile has information about the irreplaceable art that vanished in a sensational theft from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

FBI Searching CT Home Of Mobster Tied To Gardner Museum Case
MANCHESTER – FBI agents Monday were at the home of gangster Robert "Bobby the Cook" Gentile, the top person of interest in the quarter-century effort to recover masterpieces stolen from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Agents set up a tent in the front yard of the Frances Drive home, where they have previous spent time digging. Local police blocked off the street, where Gentile owns a small brown ranch.
Agents arrived in about 15 cars, with two search dogs and three trucks with heavy equipment. The U.S. Attorney's office in Connecticut had no comment on the search.
Gentile's lawyer, Ryan McGuigan, said FBI has not showed him a warrant or give him a reason for the search.
Gentile is currently facing a federal gun charge that he claims the FBI contrived to force him to reveal the location of $500 million in masterworks.
In January, federal prosecutor John H. Durham recited in court some of the evidence collected by the FBI team working the baffling robbery at the Gardner Museum.
Ryan McGuigan, attorney for Robert Gentile, discusses the FBI search of his client's home.
Durham said Gentile, 79, and mob partner Robert Guarente tried, but failed, to use the return of two stolen Gardner pieces to obtain a reduction in a prison sentence imposed on a Guarente associate. Durham revealed no additional detail, but knowledgeable sources said the beneficiary of the effort was to have been David Turner, who is serving 38 years for conspiring to rob an armored car.
While he was confined in a federal prison in Rhode Island on drug and gun charges in 2013 and 2014, Durham said, Gentile told at least three people that he had knowledge of the stolen Gardner art.
Durham confirmed a Courant report that Guarente's wife told Gardner investigators early in 2015 that her husband once had possession of stolen Gardner art and transferred two paintings to Gentile before Guarente died from cancer in 2004.
Also, Durham said Gardner investigators had reason to suspect Gentile since 2015, when he submitted to a polygraph examination and denied having advance knowledge of the Gardner heist, ever possessing a Gardner painting or knowing the location of any of the stolen paintings. The result showed a likelihood of less than 0.1 percent that he was truthful. Gentile claims the examination was conducted improperly.
On the night of March 18, 1990, two thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and stole 13 works of art valued at about $500 million. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office continue to investigate, and the museum offers a $5 million reward for information leading to the artworks' recovery.

MANCHESTER — The FBI is once again investigating at the home of reputed mobster Robert Gentile. Gentile is suspected of having knowledge about the largest art heist in U.S. history.
FBI in Manchester 2
Monday afternoon FBI agents and Manchester Police Dept. blocked off the street at Frances Drive and Niles Drive. There is no word yet on how long they will be out there.
Robert Gentile claimed federal authorities entrapped him into illegally selling a gun to pressure him into cooperating in the investigation of the 1990 theft at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In January, he lost a bid to get his weapons case dismissed.
One of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990
One of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990
Thirteen pieces of art worth an estimated $500 million were stolen and never recovered, including paintings by Rembrandt and Edouard Manet. No one has been arrested.
Gentile denies knowing anything about the missing artwork.
Federal prosecutors said they have evidence Gentile has told others he has access to some of the paintings for potential sales.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Museum 2016, Two Out Of Three, New Director, New Direction, Full Immunity & Improved, Specific Reward Offer Completes The Trinity

Here we are after 26 years still awaiting the recovery of the Gardner art.
Trust needs to be established and demonstrated by all sides.
Dispense with the guarded, broad brush offers, lets see all the cards put on the table once and for all.
Those with the ability to recover the Gardner art lay out clearly what they want to allow the Gardner art to surface.
Those in authority need to publicly set out the terms and conditions of the immunity deal, clearly and with transparency.
The reward offer by the Museum needs to be laid out in specific detail, a tarriff list of exactly how much for each and every stolen Gardner artwork.
The reward was raised back in 1997 from $1 million to $5 million, thats nearly twenty years ago, so time for another look at the amount, consider raising the amount, doubling the amount?
A trial run of a lesser valued Gardner artwork being recovered to test the waters and see how sincere all sides are in reality.
If a lesser Gardner artwork can be recovered and payments made to those providing the location of recovery and who have had nothing to do with the actual heist or subsequant handling of the Gardner art, no arrests, then that would be a foundation to build upon.

The Gardner Museum Heist: Who’s Got the Art?

Twenty-six 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.

Sometimes, when Anthony Amore gets frustrated by his 11-year hunt for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s stolen paintings, he and the FBI agents on the case will talk each other through the ways that other museums’ stolen masterpieces have come home.
If the 13 Gardner artworks swiped in 1990 are ever returned, will it be thanks to an old crook, ready to deal at last? A family member, sorting through inherited bric-a-brac in some long-locked New England attic? Or a tip from the public, someone who sees or hears a final clue?
“We often say, ‘When will one of those scenarios come our way?’” says Amore, the Gardner’s director of security since 2005. But after more than a decade of searching, after compiling 30,000 pieces of information about the crime, he no longer feels the homecoming is so far away.
“One small piece of information could end this tomorrow,” Amore says.
The biggest art theft in world history struck Boston 26 years ago this week, on March 18, 1990, when two thieves dressed as police bluffed their way into the Gardner and made off with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Manet.
Though a generation has passed, the investigation is no cold case. Amore and the FBI marked the heist’s 23rd and 25th anniversaries by sharing their leading theory of the case—a tale of petty thieves in Dorchester and Mafia men in Connecticut and Philadelphia. This year, as the 26th anniversary of the theft approached, Amore sat down with Boston for a more forward-looking conversation: on how the case might end.
None of his comments, Amore stressed, were intended as hints about specific suspects. “I don’t want you to think I’m making a commentary on the Gardner criminals in detail,” he said. “For instance, his name’s in the paper all the time: Robert Gentile.” A federal prosecutor has alleged that Gentile, a 79-year-old alleged Connecticut mobster, may have some of the paintings in his possession. “I don’t want you to think I’m trying to tie Robert Gentile to these profiles.”
In his publicity photos, Amore, 49, looks like the federal counter-terror agent he once was, sharp and polished in a suit and tie. The day of our interview, he chose a more bookish look, including a fleece pullover and glasses. He’s tackled parts of his work more like an art historian than a federal investigator: he’s collected the details of 1,300 art heists from around the world. Though the Gardner hired Amore 15 years after the thefts, they have come to define his work; he carries a copy of one of the 13 lost pieces, Rembrandt’s etching “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” in his wallet as a reminder of the crime. Amore spoke about how past art heists may hold clues about both the thieves who robbed the Gardner and the prospects for cracking the case, as well as ways the public might help.
An hour after the end of St. Patrick’s Day 1990, a merrymaking band of students walked past the Gardner Museum and noticed something odd: two men in police uniforms, sitting in an unmarked hatchback. One student noticed the car didn’t have a police license plate, but he and his friends, not wanting to get busted for underage drinking, moved on.
At 1:24 a.m., the car pulled up to the museum’s employee entrance. One of the uniformed men pressed the buzzer, told guard Richard Abath they were investigating a disturbance, and convinced Abath to let them in.
Hours later, Abath and a second guard were found in the basement, handcuffed and tied up with duct tape. Missing were 13 works of art, five of them by Edgar Degas and three by Rembrandt van Rijn, including Rembrandt’s only known seascape, “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee.”
“People say this was so elaborate,” Amore says. “It’s not elaborate!” If Abath had followed protocol and called the Boston police, the fake cops would never have gotten into the Gardner. “It was kind of a flimsy plan that worked.”
The thieves’ haul included Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece “The Concert”—“the most valuable stolen thing in the world,” Amore claims, with a value as high as $200 million. But their other choices have helped convince Amore that, like nearly all art thieves in history, they were common criminals, not experts in art crime. The thieves left behind the Gardner’s most valuable painting, Titian’s “Europa,” but took a Napoleonic finial, a gilded bronze eagle, off a French flagstaff.
“The idea of a professional art thief, a cat burglar who goes and steals masterpieces, is fiction,” says 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.
In fact, Amore only knows of two thieves in history who stole art more than once. One was Adam Worth, a 19th-century crook who inspired the character of Sherlock Holmes’ archenemy, Professor Moriarty. The other is Massachusetts’ master art burglar, Myles Connor, who stole a Rembrandt from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in 1975, then used it to negotiate a reduced sentence for stealing N.C. Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth paintings from the Woolworth estate in Maine the year before.
“He’s the greatest art thief who’s ever lived,” says Amore. However, he adds, “Myles Connor did not rob the Gardner Museum. If Myles wasn’t in prison at the time, it would have to have been him. But we know it was not him.” Connor has sometimes bragged that he inspired the Gardner heist, claiming that associates of his pulled off his tentative plans to rob the place. Yet Connor’s late-1990s offers to try to find the missing paintings all came to naught. Amore, who’s met Connor, shrugs off his claims. “I do feel confident that if he had access to them today, we’d have them back.”
The thieves’ ruse of dressing as policemen was common in Massachusetts robberies around 1990. So Amore says he wants to hear tips from “people who might know a criminal who could’ve been involved, who used these sorts of ruses”—for instance, a crook who owned a police uniform. “We’re looking for who the mastermind of the theft might’ve been,” he says.
But what Amore wants even more is a tip that leads to the paintings, not the thieves. On the 23rd anniversary of the theft in 2013, FBI agents, with Amore at their side, announced that they believed “with a high degree of confidence” that they had identified the thieves, and that the paintings had been passed to organized crime figures in Connecticut and Philadelphia. Last year, before the 25th anniversary, Amore and the lead FBI agent on the investigation shared more about their theory of the case. It revolves around the late Carmello Merlino, a mobbed-up Dorchester car-repair shop owner, and his associates, including George Reissfelder and Leonard DiMuzio. Both Reissfelder and DiMuzio died in 1991, and both resembled police sketches of the thieves. Reissfelder drove a red Dodge Daytona, similar to the car the students saw outside the Gardner.
“We’ve said in the past we know who the thieves are,” Amore says, but “knowing that hasn’t led us directly to the paintings.”
For years, the Gardner has offered a $5 million reward for information that leads to the safe return of the 13 artworks in good condition. Last year, it announced a separate $100,000 reward for the Napoleonic bronze eagle, on the possibility that it may have been separated from the paintings since the theft. “It may have been stolen as a trophy piece,” Amore says. “Someone could have that in their home right now, or in their antique store.” According to a January story in the Hartford Courant, the eagle may have been seen years ago at Robert Gentile’s used car lot in Connecticut. (Amore won’t comment on that report. “I don’t want to give it too much or too little credibility,” he says.)
Tips about the Gardner art’s whereabouts have been few and sketchy. “That kind of tells us they haven’t moved around a lot,” Amore says. Rembrandt’s “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” was offered for sale in Philadelphia around 2003, according to an FBI witness. A federal prosecutor in Hartford has claimed in court that Gentile tried to sell some of the Gardner paintings to an undercover FBI agent last year; Gentile’s lawyer has said his client was bluffing and doesn’t have the paintings.
“People assume that because a quarter-century has passed, those things are long gone,” Amore says. Not necessarily. “Whoever the paintings went to could still be in possession of all or some of them.”
In May 1980, Boston violin virtuoso Roman Totenberg lost his Stradivarius to a thief. After performing in a concert at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Totenberg, the school’s director, left his prized 1734 violin in his office to attend a reception. It was gone when he returned. Totenberg, the father of NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg, died in 2012 at age 101, without seeing the violin again.
After 35 years, the Stradivarius came back. Violinist Philip S. Johnson, a longtime suspect in the theft, left it to his ex-wife when he died in 2011, and four years later, she brought it to an appraiser, who recognized it as Totenberg’s. Last August, the FBI returned the violin to Nina Totenberg and her sisters during a ceremony at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan.
If a masterpiece violin can return home, so can masterpiece paintings. Like Totenberg’s violin, Amore says, stolen art is often recovered a generation after a theft. By then, “the scariest person involved in the crime has died or is not so scary anymore,” he says. “Now [someone] can come forward.”
Often, a tip from the public leads to the return of stolen art: “Somebody who comes forward and says they’ve seen something, they’re aware of something.” Such tips most often come from a friend or family member of the person who has the art. “Unfortunately, it’s never a guy who walks down the street and sees a painting through a window,” Amore says. “These paintings are not hanging on people’s walls. They’re hidden.”
Sometimes, a criminal informant provides the tip, or the person who has the art cuts a deal. “Sometimes, stolen art is used to negotiate your way out of trouble,” says Amore. “Some people will even steal them ahead of time, to hold as a get-out-of-jail-free card.”
Like Totenberg’s Stradivarius, the Gardner’s artworks may have ended up with someone who didn’t steal or hide them. “I would be concerned some innocent person might have them right now,” Amore says, “and is afraid to come forward because they fear some sort of danger from the outside world.”
It’s a crime to knowingly possess stolen property, but the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston has offered the possibility of immunity for anyone who helps return the Gardner’s art. Amore says the museum could protect a tipster’s identity and deliver the $5 million reward anonymously, through an attorney. Since he’s not a law-enforcement agent, he adds, he can ensure the art’s return is completed without fear of arrest.
“Speaking for the museum, we just want our paintings back,” Amore says. “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.”
That raises the possibility that Boston’s greatest mystery could end mysteriously, that Bostonians could someday see the lost paintings on the Gardner’s gallery walls again, but without the whodunit thrill of learning who stole and hid the paintings and how they came back. “When a piece is recovered, oftentimes the info is murky and scarce,” says Amore, “because there are parts of the story that just can’t be told.” That’s okay with him. “I am far more interested in the recovery than the story,” he says.
It’s also possible the Gardner mystery will never be solved. Perhaps the artworks have been destroyed, or are too damaged for anyone to collect the $5 million reward, or they’re lost—hidden by a crook who died without revealing their location. But Amore doesn’t dwell on worst-case scenarios. About 80 percent of stolen masterworks, he says, are eventually returned.
“So many people are interested in the theft,” Amore says. “If people want to help, they should acquaint themselves with the images. That’s how this will be solved.” The Gardner’s website hosts a virtual tour of the stolen art, and images of each piece are posted on the FBI’s webpage about the case.
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,’” he says. “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—hoo, okay!—now you hit this arc, now it’s falling together. So I’m not necessarily looking for the big aha! moment. I’m looking for the small aha! moments that I can piece together.”

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Museum Heist, Shoot Straight, Recover The Art !!

Gardner suspect’s sentence was cut

 David A. Turner
The government secretly reduced the prison term of a longtime suspect in the 1990 robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum several years ago, raising questions about whether he agreed to help authorities recover the $500 million worth of stolen masterworks.
David Turner, who was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the 1999 attempted robbery of an Easton armored car company and not scheduled for release until at least 2032, is now expected to be freed in 2025, according to the US Bureau of Prisons website.
The US attorney’s office, the FBI, and Turner’s lawyer, Robert Goldstein, declined to comment on why, or even when, seven years were shaved off Turner’s sentence.
It’s unclear whether the 48-year-old Braintree native, who emerged as a suspect in the Gardner heist in the early 1990s, provided any information to authorities in exchange for leniency.

However, Turner’s possible involvement in the ongoing investigation surfaced recently during federal court proceedings in Hartford involving Robert Gentile, a Connecticut mobster who is awaiting trial on gun charges and is suspected by the FBI of having access to the stolen paintings.
In late 2010, Turner wrote a letter from prison to Gentile instructing him to call Turner’s girlfriend. She then asked Gentile to meet with two of Turner’s associates about recovering the stolen artwork, according to Gentile’s lawyer.
Gentile, who was cooperating with the FBI at the time, refused to meet with the pair and introduce them to an FBI informant because of fear for his safety, according to court filings.
A federal prosecutor disclosed last week in court that Gentile and his friend Robert Guarente, who died in 2004, unsuccessfully tried to negotiate the return of two stolen Gardner paintings in exchange for a sentence reduction for one of Guarente’s associates. The associate, who was not named in court, was Turner, according to two people familiar with the incident.
When told of Turner’s sentence reduction, Gentile’s lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, said in an interview, “I think it means that he was cooperating with the federal government in trying to aid them in gleaning information as to the whereabouts of the paintings.”
He added that an inmate would generally have to provide significant cooperation to get seven years knocked off a very long sentence.
“Obviously, whatever [Turner] was offering didn’t pan out because we’re in 2016 and we still don’t know where the paintings are,” McGuigan said.
In 2013, the FBI announced it was confident it had identified the thieves, but declined to name them, citing the ongoing investigation. Authorities said they believed some of the artwork changed hands through organized crime circles, and moved from Boston to Connecticut and then to Philadelphia, where the trail went cold. Later, the FBI said it believed the two thieves were dead.
Turner is being held at the federal prison in Devens and could not be reached for comment. However, in a 2013 e-mail to a Globe reporter he wrote, “1st and foremost I have not, nor ever will cooperate with authorities.”
In response to a request for an interview about his possible knowledge of the whereabouts of the Gardner paintings, Turner wrote that he distrusted reporters and added, “I am not a treasure hunter.”
The Gardner heist was the largest art theft in history and remains one of Boston’s most baffling mysteries. Two men dressed like police officers talked their way into the museum in the early morning of March 18, 1990, tied up two guards, and fled with 13 pieces of art.
The pieces, which include works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet, and Flinck, have never been recovered, despite a $5 million reward for information leading to their safe return and promises of immunity.
After Turner was arrested in 1999 in the attempted armored car company robbery, along with Carmello Merlino, Stephen Rossetti, and William Merlino, Turner claimed the FBI told him that it suspected he and Merlino were involved in the Gardner theft and offered to let him “walk” if he helped retrieve the stolen artwork.
Merlino, a Dorchester auto repair shop owner with mob ties, was targeted by the FBI in 1997 after he boasted to two informants that he planned to recover the art and collect the reward. He was convicted along with Turner and died in prison in 2005.
Turner, who was also a suspect in three homicides, insisted at the time of his arrest that he wasn’t involved in the heist and did not know the whereabouts of the art. He was convicted in 2001 of attempting to rob the armored car facility and a variety of other charges, including carrying a hand grenade.
US District Judge Richard G. Stearns sentenced Turner to 38 years and four months in 2003. He rejected Turner’s claim that the FBI used informants to concoct the robbery plot to entrap Turner and Merlino and force their cooperation in the Gardner investigation. The judge rejected an additional request by Turner to dismiss his conviction in 2009.
There are no details about Turner’s sentence reduction on his criminal case docket in federal court in Boston, indicating that records relating to the reduction are sealed. A flurry of sealed documents were filed in Turner’s case in July 2011.
The only public record of Turner’s reduced sentence is the Bureau of Prisons website, which adjusted Turner’s release date sometime between 2010 and 2013.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons said he couldn’t provide information about the change in Turner’s release date, but said any significant reduction in an inmate’s sentence could be ordered only by the sentencing judge.
Significant sentence reductions are “relatively rare,” said Ed Ross, the agency spokesman, and can occur for statutory reasons such as the prisoner has attended a residential drug treatment program, is deserving of “compassionate” treatment, or that the prisoner has assisted investigators seeking to solve a crime.
Milton Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Murphy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @shelley-murph. Kurkjian can be reached at

Here’s Why the FBI’s Gardner Museum Investigation Focused on Robert Gentile

The Hartford Courant conducted interviews with a Gentile associate who acted as an informant in a failed sting operation.

The 13 works of art taken from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on March 18, 1990 have been missing for more than two decades now, and for the past few years, the FBI’s investigation has been largely focused on one man—Robert Gentile.
A story published this week in the Hartford Courant, based on interviews with a Gentile associate who was enlisted by the FBI for a sting operation offers new details as to why authorities have continued to pursue the Connecticut mobster in connection to the missing museum works.
Sebastian “Sammy” Mozzicato was enlisted for the sting, executed in 2014, alongside his cousin and fellow Gentile associate Ronnie Bowes. Mozzicato’s account in the Courant, corroborated by sources close to the investigation, claims that Gentile has had access to the missing art since the late 1990s.
Gentile was first implicated in the Gardner investigation in 2010, based on a claim from the widow of Robert Guarante, a Boston mobster whose Maine farmhouse authorities had scoured in search of the missing artworks. The widow, Elene Guarante, told investigators that her husband had two of the paintings in his possession, but had passed them on to Gentile after a meeting in Portland, Maine.
The Courant reveals that Mozzicato told the FBI that in the late 1990s, he had been assigned to move a package of what he thinks were paintings between cars parked outside a condo in Waltham used by Gentile, Guarante, and other members of their gang, a Boston sector of the Philadelphia Mafia. He said that Gentile and Guarante then drove up to Maine.
Among other things, Mozzicato also told the FBI that he heard Gentile and Guarante discussing whether or not to give “a painting” as “tribute” to one of their mob bosses in Philadelphia and that Gentile once gave him photographs of five stolen paintings and instructed him to recruit a buyer.
Additionally, Mozzicato also revealed that he and Bowes had on numerous occasions seen what he believes is the gilded eagle that was stolen from the Gardner, which served as a finial for a Napoleonic flagstaff. He said he saw the object on a shelf at the used car business Gentile used to own in South Windsor, Connecticut, and that he thinks Gentile sold it at some point. Currently, the Gardner is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the item, separate from the overall $5 million reward.
The sting, which is recounted in detail in the Courant ultimately failed, with Gentile growing suspicious. He was arrested again in March 2015 and is currently awaiting trial on a weapons charge. While the FBI has given him another opportunity to forgo a long prison sentence in exchange for information about the art, Gentile maintains that he knows nothing.

Prosecutors Reveal More Evidence They Say Ties Robert Gentile To Gardner Museum Robbery

Prosecutors Reveal More Evidence They Say Ties Robert Gentile To $500M Gardner Museum Robbery
HARTFORD — A federal prosecutor revealed more evidence tying Hartford gangster Robert "Bobby the Cook" Gentile to a notorious Boston art heist after Gentile claimed in court Wednesday that he is being falsely accused and that the FBI contrived gun charges to force him to reveal the location of $500 million in masterworks.
The government disclosures persuaded U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny to reject Gentile's argument that the weapons charges he faces should be dismissed because they are the product of "outrageous government misconduct."
During a strained hearing in Hartford, prosecutor John H. Durham neutralized Gentile's misconduct claim with a rare recitation of some of the evidence collected by the FBI team working the baffling robbery a quarter century ago at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
•Durham said Gentile and mob partner Robert Guarente tried, but failed, to use the return of two stolen Gardner pieces to obtain a reduction in a prison sentence imposed on a Guarente associate. Durham revealed no additional detail, but knowledgeable sources said the beneficiary of the effort was to have been David Turner, who is serving 38 years for conspiring to rob an armored car.

•While he was confined in a federal prison in Rhode Island on drug and gun charges in 2013 and 2014, Durham said Gentile told at least three people that he had knowledge of the stolen Gardner art. Durham suggested in court that Gentile and one of the people drafted some sort of contract involving the art, but would not elaborate outside court.

•Durham confirmed a Courant report that Guarente's wife told Gardner investigators early in 2015 that her husband once had possession of stolen Gardner art and transferred two paintings to Gentile before Guarente died from cancer in 2004.
•Durham said Gardner investigators had reason to suspect Gentile since 2015, when he submitted to a polygraph examination and denied having advance knowledge of the Gardner heist, ever possessing a Gardner painting or knowing the location of any of the stolen paintings. The result showed a likelihood of less than 0.1 percent that he was truthful. Gentile claims the examination was conducted improperly.

Chatigny's speedy ruling from the bench Wednesday was a blow to Gentile, 79, who is accused of two weapons charges for selling a gun to a friend and associate who had been convicted of three murders. The associate was one of two men the FBI recruited to join the Gardner investigators as confidential informants.
Gentile claims he was duped into selling the gun by federal prosecutors and FBI agents who wanted to use weapons charges and the prospect of a long prison sentence to leverage him into helping them recover the missing art. In spite of Durham's claims, Gentile denies knowing anything about the robbery or what became of the art.
"It is my client's contention that if he did commit a crime, he was cajoled to do it by two government agents," A. Ryan McGuigan argued.
McGuigan described Gentile as a tired old man who was trying to live out his final years in peace and quiet when two old friends began goading him to commit crimes, one of which was selling a gun. Gentile, white haired and overweight, was seated next to his lawyer in a prison wheelchair and nodded in agreement.
But Durham blasted the notion of Gentile as a suburban retiree, eking out an existence on a monthly Social Security check. It was Gentile, Durham said, who pressed the informants to commit crimes. Almost as soon as he was released from a prison sentence in 2014, Durham said Gentile — who the government claims is a sworn mafia soldier — was looking for help unloading truckloads of hijacked cigarettes.
During his first meeting with the informants, Durham said Gentile, who has not been charged in the museum heist, was bragging that the FBI had failed to confiscate all of his guns during an earlier search of his suburban ranch home in Manchester.
Durham said a recording made by the informants picked up a series of mocking, profane assertions by Gentile about his view of the competency of the FBI.
"He says, 'The FBI got some of my guns, they didn't get all of my guns,' " Durham said.
There was no reason on the part of the FBI to contrive a crime against Gentile to force him to talk, Durham said. The agents needed only to pick one from the recordings the informants enabled them to make.
Ross wrote:
  • Ross 22209
If I were FBI Boston’s new head Harold Shaw, I would have the FBI do a consent search of residence where Bobby Guarente and David Turner would stay in Revere, MA. I believe the address was/is 21 Roosevelt, Revere, MA.

Last I knew, it was still owned by Bobby Guarente’s younger friend, Jean Marie Wilson.

Bobby Guarente and Jean W. had lived at the farmhouse in Madison, ME with Bobby’s wife, Elene, for a while until it got weird. Elene then asked that she move out. (They had been former roommates in Boston).

I believe Jean W now lives at 6 Belmont St., Saugus — having shared for years a duplex with her daughter Amy and maybe still Amy’s husband, who was Bobby Guarente’s nephew. The nephew is Michael James Guerriero. He may at least know who knew Bobby Guarantee as “Unk” or “Unc.” Michael and his wife Amy (Jean’s daughter) have lived in the other unit of the duplex..

None of the residents would have had anything at all to do with the heist and so I expect they would just grant the FBI to consent to bring in equipment that could see through walls.

Or perhaps they would speak to a reporter and correct any misapprehensions or misstatements of facts above.
 @Ross 22209 
A note was left at the 6 Belmont St. last year, Saugus address to further corroborate the information provided by Elene and Mr. Berghman but the residents did not respond. Daniel W. lives at the Revere address and so he or Jean likely perhaps could consent to a search — in view of the $5 million reward.

But the hearing yesterday answered a question that had been part of puzzle: why hadn’t Bobby Guarente sprung “bad boy” David Turner . According to Earle Berghman, Bobby G. viewed David “like a son."

From Mr. Mahony’s follow-up article today (Jan 7) and the prosecutor’s comment yesterday, it is unclear to me whether the prosecutor was referring when such an attempt was made in 1992 (through attorney Marty Leppo with the state rejecting) or in the late 1990s. Or maybe even Mr. Berghman’s, Elene’s and daughter Jeanine’s attempt to return the paintings in 2004.

Maybe the prosecutor was referring to 1992 attempt to return the paintings. Maybe by the brilliant FBI armored car sting in the late 1990s, Bobby G. had just decided that such an offer would again be rejected and that authorities would find a way to prosecute anyone who had been involved in the theft.

Bobby had his own legal troubles and was getting out of prison about the time of the armored car sting prosecution and moving to Maine.

Given Jean W’s total non-involvement, maybe the insight she could shed would advance things.

A Pulitzer awaits whoever gets the next article as fascinating as Mr. Mahony’s article this past week about “Unk."

Jean W. could collect the reward given her bona fides and general niceness.
@Ross 22209
I think the FBI is doing a great job — even though I think counter terrorism should remain a far higher priority.

At the end of the day, I think the heist represents the greatest act of vandalism in history — I think the two main paintings were destroyed by a flood under Gentile’s shed.

Respectfully, I think those who want to write a big Hollywood ending (like the investigative reporters, FBI and the security director) are in denial in not admitting that.

It was Bobby Gentile’s son who described how upset he was when he realized that the flood had destroyed what he had hidden in a tupperware container under his shed.

p.s. I think it’s a hoot that the defense counsel and journalist and prosecutor are treating the polygraphs the way they do. There is not close to the reliability that they claim — and I am simply amazed to see a defense counsel even indirectly suggest that there is.

Defense counsel’s father’s contingency for 1/3 of the reward for return of the paintings belies defence counsel’s claim that he believes his client when his client claims that he does not have sufficient information leading to access.
 -Art Hostage Comments:
Ross, above, raises some good points, not least the allegation Mr Gentile's lawyer A. Ryan McGuigan indirectly has a stake in any recovery of the Gardner art, therefore raising suspicion that even he believes there is a chance Gentile could provide assistance in recovering at least some Gardner art. Furthermore, I wonder if the alleged A. Ryan McGuigan deal applies to other Gentile family members, Elene Guarante etc?

As regards the advice offered by Ross, I am certain Anthony Amore is fully aware of these details and would never leave any stone unturned. The possibility of two Gardner paintings being destroyed, either by water damage, or by fire has to be considered and can be argued as to why the reward clause of "Good condition" has been so rigorously enforced?
Indeed, to be fair to Anthony Amore, he did say to Art Hostage a very longtime ago:
"We don't want to pay a reward for a pile of ashes"

The FBI have been much maligned during the Gardner art Heist investigation, they have been in the unenviable position of being dammed if they do and dammed if they don't, but to be fair, they have only been doing their job and any deals for recovery must be the decision of Prosecutors in the end.

Aside from the two Gardner paintings which may or may not have been damaged beyond repair, there still remains the rest of the Gardner art to consider.

Sadly, what little trust there was historically seems to have disappeared with the recent events and until trust is rebuilt a Mexican stand-off will prevail. Having said that, the FBI will continue to try to recover the Gardner art and prosecute those responsible, not out of any malice aforethought, but because simply put, "it is their job description" and anything less leaves the FBI open to the criticism they could be encouraging further art thefts if they succumb to making deals.

The whole Gardner case is a complete mess, but with some trust and co-operation from all parties, a reasonable, positive outcome can be reached, even if some of the Gardner art has suffered terribly.

Reputed Mobster's Associate Adds New Mystery To Gardner Museum Art Heist

How A CT Man Is Helping The FBI Solve Gardner Museum Heist
For five years, investigators have focused on a once-obscure gangster from Hartford as perhaps the last, best hope of cracking history's richest art heist, the robbery a quarter century ago of $500 million in paintings and other works from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
But what put Robert "The Cook" Gentile at the center of the mystery and why authorities have pursued him relentlessly has never been explained – until now.
In a series of interviews with The Courant, a longtime Gentile associate who agreed to work with the FBI said he told agents Gentile has acted for years as if he had access to the missing art, has talked about selling it and, for a time, kept what appeared to have been a lesser-known Gardner piece – a 200-year-old gilded eagle – at a used car lot he owned in South Windsor.
Sebastian "Sammy" Mozzicato delivered the astonishing account of Gentile and the world's best known stolen art to the FBI a year ago after agents, dangling a $5 million reward as a lure, enlisted him and a cousin as secret cooperators in the recovery effort. Investigators have suspected for years – and Gentile has denied for just as long – that he is withholding information about the art. Agents recruited the cousins, their confidants for decades, as participants in a sting that agents hoped would shake loose enough information to locate the art.

The sting failed when Gentile grew suspicious, Mozzicato said. But before Gentile walked away, the cousins enabled the FBI to record him committing to the sale of multiple paintings for millions of dollars. Mozzicato said he believes Gentile has had access to the art since the late 1990s – which is when investigators suspect he was part of a Boston gang that gained control of the art from whoever stole it.

Sources close to the investigation said Mozzicato's account to the newspaper is consistent both with what he told the FBI and with what agents have collected elsewhere. His story of the art, from the mob's perspective, is now at the heart of the investigation.
A federal prosecutor has even claimed – during a proceeding in an unrelated case – that Gentile "specifically suggested" he has two of the paintings. But, suspicion aside, none of the art has been recovered, and no one has been charged with stealing or hiding it.
The government's assertion and Mozzicato's inside account enrage Gentile, 80, whose health problems have reduced him to rolling around a federal jail in a wheelchair while awaiting trial on weapons charges. He has been locked up on drug and gun charges for most of the last five years.
In repeated interviews over the past year and a half, Gentile has spat angry denials at suggestions that he knows anything about the heist or missing art. But he can be vague, too. He shrugs and smiles when told that people who know him argue that he is a swindler who made himself a top Gardner target by claiming – falsely – that he could obtain the art to cheat would-be buyers.
In a court filing, defense lawyer A. Ryan McGuigan implies Gentile's con is so slick that he duped the FBI. McGuigan argues that Gentile was running a "scam for all it was worth in hopes of getting some quick cash" and "proceeded to lead his merry band of informers and double agents on a merry hunt for nonexistent paintings."

In an interview, McGuigan dismissed Mozzicato's claims.
"Apparently, the government is relying on sources which include murderers, drug dealers and career criminals," McGuigan said. "Not exactly fine company to keep."
One aspect of Mozzicato's account is undisputed: It explains how someone, who for years had law enforcement convinced that he was a second-rate crook, became the potential key to recovering some of the world's most revered art. It doesn't answer why – if Gentile knows anything – he continues to turn up his nose at the reward and submit to continuous investigation and arrest.
Federal prosecutors contend he is a sworn Mafia soldier, and some in law enforcement speculate he is enjoying the consternation he is causing by adhering to the mob's oath of silence. Gentile denies being a member of the Mafia.
Mozzicato played a leading part in the failed FBI sting in 2014 and '15. But he has told agents that he believes Gentile was involved with the art at least 15 years earlier, beginning in the late 1990s. Among other things, Mozzicato said he told the FBI how:
  • In the late 1990s, he was instructed to move a package of what he suspects were paintings between cars outside a Waltham, Mass., condominium used by him, Gentile, fellow mobster Robert Guarente and other partners of their Boston gang, which was a faction of the Philadelphia Mafia. A day or two later, Mozzicato said Gentile and Guarente drove the purported art to Maine, where Guarente owned a farmhouse.
  • Not long afterward, Mozzicato said he listened to an animated discussion between Gentile and Guarente about whether they should give what they referred to only as "a painting" to one of their Philadelphia mob bosses as "tribute." Mozzicato said Gentile argued that the painting was "worth a fortune" and told his old friend Guarente "You're out of your (expletive) mind" to give it away.
  • Also in the late 1990s, Mozzicato said Gentile gave him photographs of five stolen paintings and asked him to act as an intermediary in recruiting a buyer. Mozzicato said the potential buyer was shocked by the paintings and complained, half jokingly, that they could be arrested just for talking about them. Mozzicato said Gentile then cut him out of the deal, but acknowledged later that it fell through.
  • Mozzicato said he and his cousin saw, on repeated occasions, what he believes was the gilded eagle, cast two centuries ago in France as a finial for a Napoleonic flagstaff. He said they saw it often on a shelf at Gem Auto, the used car business Gentile formerly owned on Route 5 in South Windsor. Mozzicato said he thinks Gentile later sold the eagle. Mozzicato said he identified the finial from a photo provided by the FBI.
There have been intriguing, if murky stories about the missing art, but Mozzicato's is one of the more remarkable to emerge since the robbery on March 18, 1990.
Early that morning, as St. Patrick's Day celebrations wound down across Boston, two thieves disguised themselves as police officers, bluffed their way into the Gardner, an Italianate palazzo in Boston's Fenway. They bound the guards, battered and slashed some of the world's most recognizable art from walls and frames, and disappeared.
The thieves took 13 pieces, including "The Concert" by Vermeer and two Rembrandts, one of them his only known seascape, "Storm on the Sea of Galilee." The art was uninsured under the terms of the bequest that created the museum and empty frames now hang where art was displayed.
In spite of the reward and promises of no-questions-asked immunity for anyone returning the art, the investigation has run down repeated dead ends, in many cases because promising targets are dying off among the aging circle of New England mobsters. Nonetheless, a federal grand jury in New Haven was actively investigating last summer and fall.
An Unlikely Break

It was not was until decades after the robbery and the events described by Mozzicato at the Waltham condo during the late 1990s that Gentile moved to the center of the Gardner investigation. It happened entirely by chance early in 2010.
Gardner investigators were in Maine, tracking Guarente, who they believed had managed to take control of at least some of the art. He was a well-connected Boston bank robber and drug dealer who was known by the nickname "Unk."
Guarente's farmhouse was in the woods north of Portland. After his last arrest for cocaine distribution in the late 1990s, he flirted with the idea of cooperating with drug investigators. He didn't. He went to prison, moved to Maine upon his release and died from cancer two years later, in 2004.
Gentile acknowledges that he and Guarente had been friends since the 1970s when he said they met at a regional automobile auction near Hartford. Law enforcement and other sources said the two were sworn in, with others in their Boston gang, as soldiers in the Philadelphia Mafia in the late 1990s.
A search by the Gardner investigators of Guarente's farmhouse turned up empty. But they got a break when they returned the keys to his widow, Elene Guarente. She declined to discuss the encounter with The Courant. But a person with knowledge of the event gave the following account:
After first denying even being aware of the Gardner museum, she blurted out, inexplicably, "My Bobby had two of the paintings."
In ensuing interviews, she said that her husband kept the paintings in Maine and, after his release from prison for the last time, he decided to pass them to an associate.
She said Guarente put the paintings in their car and they drove to Portland, where Guarente had arranged to meet another couple at a downtown hotel. After the couples sat down for a shore dinner, she said the men left briefly and walked outside.
She identified Gentile as the man who took possession of the two paintings.
Gentile Cooperates

Gentile claims he is the victim of lies or speculation by hustlers competing for the museum's $5 million reward. Elene Guarente, he said, is chief among them.
"Everything is lies," he said. "They got no proof."
He admits meeting the Guarentes at the Portland hotel. He said he met the couple regularly. Guarente was sick and broke and Gentile said he was supporting him. Gentile said he and his wife liked to drive and enjoyed arranging weekend getaways or day trips around promising restaurants. He said Portland's vibrant waterfront was a favorite destination.
"Bobby Guarente always needed money," Gentile said. "One day he calls me. He said he needed $300 for groceries. That's what he used to call it, 'Groceries.' He was sick at the time."
"I helped him out," Gentile said. "I've helped a lot of people."
Gentile said he remembers picking up the check because Elene Guarente ordered the most expensive item on the menu – the lobster special.
"I'm a sucker," Gentile said. "I'm the one picking up the check."
He claims Elene Guarente implicated him out of spite. When her husband died, Gentile said he told her that he had health problems of his own and could no longer help her financially.

Complain as Gentile might, Elene Guarente's spontaneous statement early in 2010 invigorated the investigation and brought its weight down on Gentile. To disprove her allegation, he said he decided to cooperate himself. It did not go well.
He submitted to a polygraph examination, during which he denied having advance knowledge of the Gardner heist, ever possessing a Gardner painting or knowing the location of any of the stolen paintings. The result showed a likelihood of less than 0.1 percent that he was truthful, according to a government filing in federal court.
Gentile and his lawyer claim the results are skewed because the test was improperly administered.
The FBI next recruited a cooperating Hartford mobster "to engage (Gentile) in general conversation," according to the same filing. Gentile boasted to the cooperator that he and Guarente were soldiers in the Philadelphia Mafia. He said Guarente "had masterminded the whole thing," and had "flipped" before he died – a reference to Guarente's flirtation with cooperation. When the informant asked Gentile if he had the paintings, Gentile "just smiled," according to the filing.
Prosecutors withdrew Gentile's cooperation agreement early in 2011, claiming he lied when testifying before the Gardner grand jury.
A year later, they were preparing to indict him for selling prescription painkillers. When agents searched his small, suburban home in Manchester, they discovered the cellar was packed with money, drugs, guns, ammunition, silencers, explosives, handcuffs and a couple of odd pieces – a stuffed kestrel and a pair of enormous elephant tusks.

Significantly, they also found a copy of the March 19, 1990, Boston Herald, the edition dominated by the Gardner heist. With the newspaper was a handwritten list of the pieces the thieves stole and corresponding values.
As with just about everything else turned up in the Gardner case, the list of paintings and prices has a murky provenance.
Massachusetts art thief Florian "Al" Monday, who orchestrated the robbery of a Rembrandt from the Worcester Art Museum in 1972, said in an interview with The Courant that he wrote the list and that the values were his estimates of what the Gardner pieces were worth on the black market. Monday said he gave the list to Paul Papasodero, a forger, thief and hair stylist from Milford, Mass.
Gentile said he and Papasodero were friends. When Papasodero died in 2010, Gentile said he attended the funeral. Gentile said in an interview he got the list from Papasodero when, about a dozen years ago, he found himself – inadvertently and entirely innocently – in the middle of a scam by Guarente to sell paintings he believes Guarente did not have.
Based partly on what the FBI dragged out of his cellar, Gentile was charged with drug and gun offenses and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. The government told him he could skip prison and go home with the reward if he led the FBI to the art. Gentile said he knew nothing and served the time.
When he was released in April 2014, Mozzicato and his cousin were waiting.
The Sting

Neither was what could be called a model citizen. Mozzicato had been charged with crimes repeatedly, but had avoided conviction on charges such as racketeering, extortion and assault. Ronnie Bowes had been convicted of murder.
Mozzicato said he had reformed and was selling cars at a suburban Hartford dealership and said his cousin was selling antiques from a shop in Charlton, Mass., when the FBI tracked them down and offered a crack at the $5 million. The two men, through their families, had known Gentile most of their lives. Bowes had been diagnosed with cancer and, at the time, had been told he had only months to live.
Bowes had left Connecticut years earlier, in the early 1980s, to try his hand at the drug business in South Florida. Something went wrong one night in 1983 after he agreed to sell 50 pounds of marijuana to four men from Tennessee on a swampy key in the Florida Straits, according to court records. When the smoke cleared, the Tennesseans were dead, and someone had shot off one of Bowes' thumbs.
The police caught him in Vernon. He was extradited to Key West, convicted on three murder charges and sentenced to death. An appeals court agreed with his claim of self defense and released him after 14 years. He was back in Connecticut in the late 1990s.
By the time of Gentile's release, Mozzicato said he was persuaded by events dating to the late 1990s and the events at the Waltham condominium that Gentile had access to the Gardner art. Incidents that, years earlier, appeared to be insignificant or unconnected, seemed to have fallen into a pattern, he said.

There was the transfer of suspected paintings between cars and the argument about a painting as tribute to the Philadelphia mob. Mozzicato said he had been baffled initially by the frightened reaction of the potential buyer to whom he showed five photographs of paintings. He said he became convinced when, pressed by the FBI to identify the gilded eagle he said he saw at Gentile's used car lot, he selected a photograph of the stolen Gardner finial from an FBI photo array.
"I'm no art expert," Mozzicato said. "But I know this is bigger than me. It's bigger than Bobby. This is about the people who can't see those paintings hanging on the wall. That art should be returned. Of course, the $5 million reward doesn't sound too bad either."
The FBI arranged to have the cousins be among the first to welcome Gentile home from prison. Mozzicato said he was sitting on a bench at a shopping plaza in South Windsor when Gentile, understated as ever, drove up in his old Buick. Bowes was his passenger. Mozzicato said he jumped in back.
Gentile was so heavy he couldn't fasten his seat belt. Since the Gardner heist had made him a hot FBI target, Gentile was afraid any arrest, even a seat belt violation, could jeopardize his parole.
"He's got bungee cords he's got to use for the seat belt," Mozzicato said. "He says, 'I can't get arrested. The seat belt don't fit. They told me to buy this thing. I'll use this.' He's in the car. He can barely turn."
Mozzicato said he began making Gardner references immediately. He complained that he and Bowes, well-known to law enforcement as Gentile associates, were being harassed by the FBI's Gardner team. He said he told Gentile that the agents knew Gentile had enlisted him in an attempt to sell a Gardner painting. Gentile growled that the FBI didn't know what it was talking about, but referred specifically to the prospective buyer, Mozzicato said.
Mozzicato said agents were listening to and recording the conversation – and those that followed – over concealed transmitters the cousins wore.
He said he and Bowes were soon meeting regularly with Gentile, handing him cash provided by the government, a supposed acknowledge that Gentile, a made member of the Mafia, was the boss.
"We're giving him envelopes. 'Here Boss. How you doing?'," Mozzicato said. "He'd look inside and say, 'Hey kid. You did good today, kid. Who would have thought? This is like old times. Let's go get lunch.'"
The money was meant to reinforce a fiction the FBI hoped would induce Gentile to produce the art. Mozzicato said he and Bowes were claiming that they had created a marijuana distribution network and were flush with cash. More to the point, they told Gentile they had a way to earn even more – the rich New Jersey dealer who was buying their pot had devised a foolproof plan to cash in on the Gardner art.
Mozzicato said the cousins told Gentile that the dealer would pay $500,000 for a painting. The painting would be delivered to a lawyer in Seattle, who would arrange to return it to the museum anonymously and collect a reward under the museum's no-questions-asked offer. Gentile was promised "two ends" of the transaction – the $500,000 up-front and a piece of whatever the reward turned out to be for a single painting.
Mozzicato said he told Gentile: "'If it goes good, the first one, you can do it again, for all the paintings. Everyone's got a chance to make a lot of money.' "
Gentile seemed intrigued, Mozzicato said, but would not act. Over spring and summer in 2014, Mozzicato said the cousins pressed and complained that he was missing a chance at big money. He said Gentile waved the subject aside or ignored them. The reaction was not unexpected, Mozzicato said. Gentile could be obstinate when pressed and suspicious when pressed harder.
Gentile told the cousins that he finally agreed to test the plan with one painting. Mozzicato said he committed over a lunch with the cousins at La Casa Bella in South Windsor. Mozzicato said the FBI listened to the conversation from the parking lot.
"Bobby starts going, 'If that goes over good, we could probably do others'," Mozzicato said. "My cousin and I are thinking: 'Bobby's dead in the water. This is all on tape.' "
Bowes wanted to leave the restaurant that minute to get a painting, Mozzicato said, but Gentile applied the brakes again. Mozzicato said Gentile wanted five days, maybe a week, to put the deal together. On one of those days, Gentile said he would have to take a five-hour drive, one way.
"Here he is saying, 'Yes. I'll get it. We'll do it for half a million. Set it up. I need a week.' My cousin says to Bobby, 'I'll go with you .' Bobby says, 'No, no, no. Me and Sammy got to go. Sammy knows the guy we got to see.' "
Mozzicato said Gentile would not reveal why he needed a week, where he was driving to, whom he was seeing or where the paintings were or how many he could get.
Bowes insisted that the cousins be allowed to tell the fictitious New Jersey pot buyer to get ready for a painting, Mozzicato said.
Mozzicato said the FBI recorded Gentile answering, "Yes, I'll do it."
'The Deal Sounds Good'

But the next time they met, Gentile was stalling again, Mozzicato said. To prod him, Mozzicato said the FBI arranged to have the cousins introduce him to an undercover agent posing as a representative of the New Jersey pot dealer. Over another lunch, the agent told Gentile that his boss might shut down the pot business if Gentile did not sell a painting.
Gentile responded with a threat of his own. Federal prosecutor John Durham described the exchange during a bail hearing in court earlier this year, providing a rare public statement about the government's interest in Gentile.
"Mr. Gentile specifically stated to the FBI undercover operative that he, Mr. Gentile, is a made member of La Cosa Nostra," Durham said. "Mr. Gentile had specifically suggested that he had two particular paintings that had been stolen in the Gardner incident many years ago. Mr. Gentile became furious with the FBI undercover person because he wouldn't engage in the marijuana deal with Mr. Gentile, at which point Mr. Gentile told the undercover agent, do you know who I am, and stated that he could have people killed and make them disappear."
Frustrated by the delays, Mozzicato said his cousin offered Gentile a way to save face on the chance that the paintings had been lost or destroyed. The FBI knew that someone had dug a hole beneath a shed in Gentile's backyard, apparently as a hiding place. If the art had been buried, it could be ruined,
"Ronnie says to him, 'If you don't have the paintings anymore, if you destroyed them, if you don't want to do it anymore, just tell me. So we don't look stupid. Because the guy in New Jersey is asking. I told him I'd ask you. Sammy said he would ask you. So, if you don't want to do it, just say so.' And then Ronnie says to Bobby, 'If you're just doing this to steal the half a million, that's fine too.' "
"Bobby says, 'No. No. No. I'd never do that,' " Mozzicato said. "And then he goes, 'Let's do it. The deal sounds good. We can all use the money.' "
Into The Woods
Not long after, in August 2014, Mozzicato said Gentile called with instructions. He was to drive to a pay telephone in South Windsor and wait for a call. From the pay phone, Mozzicato said Gentile directed him to a truck stop on I-84 in Ashford.
At the truck stop, he said Gentile ordered him to leave his cellphone and car behind. He said Gentile drove the two of them through the woods for a half-hour or so to a house on the Massachusetts side of the state line. Inside, Mozzicato said a man was seated in a corner and a couple of guys were standing apart, as if waiting to be told what to do. Mozzicato said one of them frisked him.
"So I look at Bobby," Mozzicato said. "He give me the look, like, 'Go with it.' Then, the guy in the corner says, 'So Sammy. How ya doing? I heard about you from Unk."
Unk was Guarente's nickname.
Mozzicato said the man refused to identify himself, which did not seem to bother Gentile. Mozzicato said Gentile told him to explain the plan to sell a painting for $500,000. Mozzicato said he did. He said the man considered for a while and responded with a couple of questions.
"So the guy just comes out with all these hypotheticals," Mozzicato said, "He says, 'Let's just say, hypothetically, not that I have them or anything, these pictures. But hypothetically,' he says, 'Bobby is saying, you got a guy. So, hypothetically, if I had one, or two, or maybe three, if I had them, you could get me this money and do this deal?' "
The man wanted the identity of the buyer. Mozzicato said he told him it was none of his business. Mozzicato said Gentile ordered him to wait outside. A few minutes later, he said Gentile came out and drove them back to the truck stop.
A few days later, Mozzicato said Gentile told him to rent a commercial storage unit and a car. Then, Mozzicato said, Gentile canceled the car. Mozzicato said he accompanied Gentile when he picked up a supposedly indestructible German lock from a used car lot in Hartford's South End, where Gentile used to pass the time with a handful of aging Hartford gangsters.
Then, Mozzicato said, Gentile went silent again. Mozzicato said he believes Gentile had grown suspicious.
Mozzicato said: "Now this kind of conversation starts: He says 'Something ain't right.' He's talking with Ronnie one day, 'You know, Ronnie?. We've been through a lot. You and Sammy are all I got left. But something ain't right.' "
"Then he started with me. 'Sammy boy. Sammy boy. These paintings bring nothing but heartache. They are nothing but a problem.' "
Mozzicato said Gentile complained that, even if he were to cooperate with the government and turn in the paintings, he was convinced the FBI would figure out a way to prevent him from getting the reward.
Mozzicato said, "He says, 'The feds will never let me spend the money. I don't care what deal my lawyer tells me.' "
Six months later, on March 2, 2015, the FBI watched as Bowes used $1,000 in FBI cash to buy a .38 Colt Cobra revolver and six rounds of ammunition from Gentile. Within weeks, Bowes was dead of cancer and Gentile had been indicted on weapons charges.
The FBI gave Gentile another opportunity. If he cooperated, he would avoid a long prison sentence and perhaps collect a reward. He cursed at the agents and claimed again to know nothing about the art.
A federal magistrate declared him a threat to public safety, again, and denied him bail while awaiting trial and the likelihood of another prison sentence.
He is arguing that the charges should be dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct. He said the gun case was contrived to force him to give up information about the art – information he doesn't have.

Suffolk Downs Was Searched For Gardner Heist Paintings

BOSTON (CBS) — The search for the paintings stolen in the 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist led authorities to Suffolk Downs a few months ago.
Acting on a tip, the FBI searched a couple of locations at the racetrack in September for some sign of the thirteen paintings, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But Suffolk Downs CEO Chip Tuttle said their search didn’t come up with anything.
“Obviously, we cooperated fully with the FBI,” Tuttle told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Monday. “It was actually very impressive, they had a big team, they were very serious, they went through the entire facility sort of with a fine-toothed comb. But the paintings are not at Suffolk Downs.”
Tuttle said the call from the FBI came as a surprise for the staff–that nobody could imagine the long-missing works by Rembrandt, Degas, Manet, and Vermeer could be stashed at the track.
“At first, it was almost humorous,” said Tuttle. “You laugh it off, the idea that these famous paintings that people have been looking for for years might be right underneath your nose.”
But Tuttle said authorities had a theory that, when explained, seemed plausible–that someone may have stashed the paintings there while the facilities were closed in the early 90s, around the time of the heist.
“The track, of course, was closed in 1990 and ’91,” said Tuttle. “It closed at the end of 1989 and reopened in ’92. So, the way they explained the premise was, perhaps someone had stashed them there when the track was closed. Then it made a little more sense that they would be interested in taking a look around.”
Areas of the building that had been closed for more than 20 years were searched, and the FBI teams even opened a couple of old safes that nobody in the track’s current administration could ever remember opening. They found nothing.
The paintings were stolen March 18, 1990, when the FBI says two white men disguised in Boston police uniforms were able to enter the museum by telling a security guard that they were responding to a disturbance. Once inside, the thieves handcuffed two security guards and kept them in the museum’s basement.
The FBI has said in the past that they know who took the paintings, and that those people are now dead–but the feds have never said who the suspects who pulled off the heist were.
In August, the FBI released new surveillance footage from the night before the heist, showing a security guard letting in an unauthorized visitor 24 hours before the art was stolen.
Days later, a Quincy attorney said a former client of his had identified the visitor in the video.