Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

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.