Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Stolen Art Watch, Arthur Brand Chasing Fake Gardner Art Sold By Michel Van Rijn To Irish Criminals InThe Netherlands/Holland

Art Hostage Comments:
Arthur Brand, claims in the article on Bloomberg, below he is negociating with former IRA members to recover the Gardner art.
These leads are Irish drug dealers who work out of the Netherlands.
Furthermore, Arthur Brand claims a Dutch criminal had photo's of the Gardner art back in the 1990's and was trying to sell them in Europe. This criminal was Michel Van Rijn and he sold them to Irish criminals, but sadly they were copies/fakes and Michel Van Rijn scammed the buyers, who could not get them authenticated for obvious reasons.
These fake Gardner artworks have been passed through many hands over the years and if they are ever recovered it will become clear very quickly they are good quality fakes. Therefore no reward would ever be paid out and the reason given will be because they are copies, true or false.
However, this is not to say some of the original Gardner artworks might be held by Irish people, but this latest attempt by Arthur Brand is chasing the fake Gardner art sold by Michel Van Rijn.

Cracking the Biggest Art Heist in History

For nearly three decades, detectives have sought to solve the theft of $500 million of artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. They think the end is near. 
It’s still regarded as the greatest unsolved art heist of all time: $500 million of art—including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and Manet—plucked from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990, by two men posing as police.
The museum had offered a $5 million reward for the return of all 13 pieces in good condition. Last month, the bounty was suddenly and unexpectedly doubled to $10 million.
For such a long-unsolved case, the investigation is surprisingly active into the disappearance of the artworks, which include paintings, a Chinese vase and a 19th century finial of an eagle. Anthony Amore, the museum’s director of security, says he works on the case every day and is in “almost constant contact” with FBI investigators. Tipsters still call all the time, with leads that range from the vaguely interesting to the downright bizarre. Among them: a psychic who offered to contact the late Mrs. Gardner’s spirit, and a few self-styled sleuths who reckon the paintings can be found with metal dowsing rods.
Most of those go nowhere. Whether the works will ever be recovered, or if they still exist at all, is one of the great questions that has divided the art world.
“Those paintings are gone,” said Erin Thompson, professor of art crime at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “Either because they were destroyed immediately after they were stolen, or because they’ve already been beaten up so badly by being moved around in the back of cars.”
But there is one outside detective respected by Amore—Arthur Brand, a Dutch private investigator—who believes not only are the artworks still intact, but also that he can bring them home. This year.
“It’s almost certain that the pieces still exist,” Brand told me. “We are following two leads that both go to the Netherlands, and we are now negotiating with certain people.”
Brand, 47, has become one of the world’s leading experts in international art crimes. A British newspaper once called him the “Indiana Jones of the art world” for his combination of crack negotiating skills and uncanny instincts for finding stolen art.
In the past few years, Brand has posed as the agent of a Texas oil millionaire to help Berlin police find two enormous bronze horses from the German Reichstag. He worked with Ukrainian militia members to secure the return of five stolen Dutch masters to the Westfries Museum in the Netherlands. He negotiated with two criminal gangs for the successful return of a Salvador Dali and a painting by Tamara de Lempicka, together valued at about $25 million, to the now-closed Scheringa Museum of Realist Art, also in the Netherlands.
Brand acts as something of a liaison between criminals and the police. Controversially, he’ll try to make deals that allow the culprits to go free, because he says his primary goal is saving the art from the trash heap.
“There are very few like him who understand the reality of this sort of crime,” Amore said.


RenĂ© Allonge, the chief art investigator with the Berlin State Office of Criminal Investigation, said his team had been searching for Hitler’s bronze horses since 2013. He contacted Brand at the end of 2014, met him in 2015, and they conducted the investigation and searches jointly, “as far as it was legally possible.” Ultimately, Brand played a crucial role in the discovery of the bronze horses, as well as other populist bronzes from the Nazi era, he said. “He succeeded in penetrating a very closed scene of collectors of high-quality Nazi devotionalia, where we finally found the sculptures that we were searching for,” Allonge wrote in an email.
Brand’s reward in some of these high-profile cases is often the glory and nothing more. Scheringa had originally offered a €250,000 bounty ($280,000) for the Dali and Lempicka, but the museum had shut down by the time they were recovered. Brand was paid an hourly fee and had his expenses reimbursed, though he declined to say by whom. For finding Hitler’s horses, he got no cash at all, just a lot of free publicity, he says.
“He’s not the guy to charge you for every hour he works,” said Ad Geerdink, director of the Westfries Museum, for which Brand recovered five old-master paintings from a militia group in Ukraine. “He knew that we are a small organization with not many resources, so the fee was very, very friendly.”
The biggest bonus Brand’s ever received for solving a case was about €25,000, he says. He adds that he’s investigating the Gardner case for the glory. “It’s the Holy Grail in the art world,” he said.
It’s estimated that only 5 percent to 10 percent of stolen art is ever recovered, largely because the works are impossible to sell publicly.
“People will steal art first and then think about what to do with it second,” said Thompson, the art crime professor. “Often they’ll destroy the work of art to get rid of the evidence.”
Shortly after seven paintings by Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and others, valued in the tens of millions of dollars, were stolen from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum in 2013, they were burned by the mother of one of three Romanian thieves arrested and charged in the burglary. She confessed to investigators that she was scared after police began searching her village.
Alternatively, paintings are used as bargaining chips in criminal cases. That’s how Italian police recently located two stolen Van Goghs.
In 2002, thieves broke into the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam with a sledgehammer—just because they saw a weakness in the museum’s security, not because they knew what they were after. The opportunists sold the works for ‎€350,000 to alleged Italian mobster Raffaele Imperiale. (The art was said to be worth tens of millions—although it never came to market, so it’s impossible to know.)
In a seaside town near Naples, Imperiale stored the canvases in his mother’s kitchen cabinet for a dozen years until prosecutors closed in. In August, Imperiale disclosed their location in an attempt to improve his standing with the courts, his lawyers, Maurizio Frizzi and Giovanni Ricco, told me. Prosecutors subsequently reduced his sentence by about two years, they said.
But often, the thieves are only persuaded to let go of works if they think they’re going to sell them on the black market. This is where someone like Brand can come in. In 2014, he created a character to help solve the case of the missing Reichstag bronze horses. He pretended to be an agent for “Dr. Moss,” a fictional American collector who had gotten rich in the oil business, loosely based on the character J.R. Ewing from the TV show Dallas. He has also posed as the representative of princes and sheikhs, or even as a criminal himself. “Whatever works, works,” he said. He draws the line at wearing costumes.
Brand says he almost never deals with the original thieves. Stolen art tends to move through many hands. Sometimes, the ultimate recipient doesn’t know that what they have was stolen.
“In many cases, I have to deal with a person who has a problem: They’ve been screwed by another criminal group,” Brand said. “They can either pass art along to another criminal group, or they can burn it. That’s even worse. What they won’t do is take the work to the police and say, ‘We found these Van Goghs.’ Because the police will ask where they got them.”


That’s where Brand has an opportunity to become the middleman. He can promise the sellers they won’t get in trouble, then get assurances that the police won’t make arrests.
Brand’s style works particularly well for snaring amateur crooks, said Noah Charney, founder of the Association for Research Into Crimes Against Art. A lot of people who steal art assume there are collectors out there who buy on the black market, like characters in heist movies. In fact, almost none exist, he said.
“People have always collected art to show their erudition and to advertise their wealth,” he said. “If you buy something that you know or suspect was stolen, you can’t show it to anyone.”
Criminals don’t always know that. “They get desperate and then turn to someone like Arthur Brand,” someone they are willing to believe is the real deal, Charney said.
Six-foot-two, with a shock of blond hair and bright blue eyes, Brand could be played in the movie of his life by Liam Neeson or Ralph Fiennes. His sleuthing is an adjunct to his primary and less dramatic job—helping buyers who have been swindled, conned, or overcharged for art.
“About 70 percent of what I do is just in the office, visiting clients, visiting dealers, talking to people, and saying, ‘Give him his money back!’” he said. “The other 30 percent is walking around talking to criminals, talking to police, informants, and going undercover sometimes.”
Brand first became connected to the art world as a student, through collecting ancient Roman and Greek coins. “I found out that there were a lot of fakes out there, and I didn’t want to spend my hard-earned money buying fakes,” he said.
In 2002, Brand received the first of many tips, rumors, and leads about the Gardner case. He heard that back in 1991, people in Holland had photographs of the paintings in storage. By following up, he became convinced that the paintings were never sent to the Netherlands, but photographs were being circulated by people trying to sell the paintings to someone there.
Sometime around 2010, he heard that the works had ended up in the hands of former members of the Irish Republican Army. But he soon suffered a setback with the death of one of his top sources, a former IRA member.
Brand believes the original thieves were small-time burglars who sold the pieces to a criminal gang in the U.S. before they were killed in the early 1990s. At some point in the mid-1990s, he thinks, the works were shipped to Ireland by boat and ended up with top-ranking IRA commanders.
For the past 12 years, Amore and the FBI have worked around a theory that local gang members in the Boston area may have been involved. They are fairly certain that the two thieves who committed the crime died shortly afterwards, Amore said.
But Amore believes the works are still in the U.S. “Art that is stolen in America tends to stay in America,” he said. “I’d be happy to be proven wrong.”
The statute of limitations on the theft ran out in 1995, and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts has considered offering immunity for information that leads to its return. The museum mostly cares about getting the works back, Amore said. That’s partly why they raised the reward.
“It was important for the museum to show its commitment,” he said. “We’re telling the public this is how serious we are.”
Brand says the higher reward may help speed things up. He isn’t convinced, though, that the criminals involved will trust the FBI to live up to the deal, despite his assurances.
“For me, it’s not about getting people arrested,” he said. “We’re not talking about murders here. If a big criminal has them or the Pope, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to get them back.”
Brand says this case could be cracked within months. He won’t elaborate, but if his leads are good, he’ll have to work fast.
Amore also says that he and the FBI may be close to solving the case, and they have leads that are “making the haystack smaller.” He, too, declined to share specifics. “We feel we’re on the right path,” he said.
The FBI is more measured. “The investigation has had many twists and turns, promising leads and dead ends,” said Kristen Setera, an agency spokeswoman in Boston. “It has included thousands of interviews and incalculable hours of effort. The FBI believes with high confidence that we have identified those responsible for the theft, even though we still don’t know where the art is currently located.”
Brand is confident he can find out.
“Somebody I’m talking to knows something,” he said. “These people are not idiots. They know that they can’t just hand them over and walk away with impunity. They think even if they’ve been offered immunity, the police will have some tricks up their sleeves. What I can do is I can provide them a way to return the works without ever having contact with the police. I can even promise them that they can get the reward.”
Would Brand really hand over $10 million?
“If I can be the one who can bring them to the museum,” he says, “give me a good glass of Guinness, and that’s reward enough.”
—With assistance from Hugo Miller.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Evidence Hidden In Plain Sight, Political Suppression


Boston police found Richard Abath handcuffed and duct-taped in the basement of the Gardner Museum after it was robbed in 1990.
Boston Police Department.
Boston police found Richard Abath handcuffed and duct-taped in the basement of the Gardner Museum after it was robbed in 1990.




 

 

 

 

Evidence in Gardner Museum thefts that might bear DNA is missing

Despite an exhaustive internal search, the FBI has been unable to find the missing evidence in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Despite an exhaustive internal search, the FBI has been unable to find the missing evidence in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist.

The trail had been cold for years when the FBI announced in 2010 that it had sent crime scene evidence from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to its lab for retesting, hoping advances in DNA analysis would identify the thieves who stole $500 million worth of masterpieces.
But behind the scenes, federal investigators searching for a break in the world’s largest art theft were stymied by another mystery. The duct tape and handcuffs that the thieves had used to restrain the museum’s two security guards — evidence that might, even 27 years after the crime, retain traces of DNA — had disappeared.
The FBI, which collected the crime scene evidence after the heist, lost the duct tape and handcuffs, according to three people familiar with the investigation. Despite an exhaustive internal search, the FBI has been unable to find the missing evidence, thwarting its plan to analyze it for potential traces of the thieves’ genetic material, according to those people, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
It’s unclear when the items vanished — although two people said they have been missing for more than a decade — and whether they were thrown away or simply misfiled, the people said.
The lost evidence marks another setback in an ongoing investigation that has been plagued by the deaths of suspects, defiant mobsters, fruitless searches, and a litany of dashed hopes. None of the 13 stolen treasures, which include masterpieces by Vermeer and Rembrandt, have been recovered, and no one has been charged.
The FBI declined to comment on the missing evidence, citing the ongoing investigation, but defended its handling of the case. Harold H. Shaw, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office, said the bureau has devoted significant resources to the investigation, chased leads around the world, and remains committed to recovering the artwork.
“The investigation has had many twists and turns, promising leads and dead ends,” Shaw said. “It has included thousands of interviews and incalculable hours of effort.”
The FBI completed DNA analysis of some museum evidence in 2010, according to Kristen Setera, an FBI spokeswoman. She declined to say what items were tested or what, if anything, the tests showed.
The heist remains one of Boston’s greatest mysteries. Promising leads have led nowhere, leaving investigators at a crossroads. Most notably, a seven-year effort to pressure a Connecticut mobster for information has come up empty.
Robert Gentile, 80, faces sentencing in August on gun charges but could walk free if he cooperated with federal authorities, his lawyer said. Despite the enticement, and a hefty reward, Gentile denies knowing anything about the stolen artwork.
Finding the treasures may require a new approach, according to several former law enforcement officials who worked on the case. They suggested that investigators should restart the investigation from scratch and review the evidence in a contemporary light.
Carmen Ortiz, who recently stepped down as US attorney for Massachusetts, said authorities should shift their strategy, perhaps to include appeals on social media, and expand the investigative team.
“Get around the table with some fresh eyes, in addition to those who know this case very well, to give it a new look,” Ortiz said. Ortiz’s successor, Acting US Attorney William Weinreb, said the investigation remains a top priority.
A former assistant US attorney, Robert Fisher, who oversaw the Gardner investigation from 2010 to 2016, said investigators should “go back to square one” and study the crime as if it just happened, analyzing each piece of evidence with the latest DNA, fingerprint, and video technology.
“What if it happened last night, what would we do this morning to try to crack this case?” said Fisher, an attorney at Nixon Peabody.
Told that the Globe had learned the duct tape and handcuffs left behind by the thieves were now missing, Fisher said he hoped they would be found.
“Frankly, it could be enormously helpful,” Fisher said of the missing items. “I think present-day forensic analysis of evidence like that could lead to a break in the case.”
However, he said the tape may yield no viable DNA, depending on its condition.
Anthony Amore, the museum’s security director, said investigators are pursuing a number of new leads following last month’s announcement that the reward for information leading to the recovery of the artwork had doubled to $10 million until year’s end. Dozens of tips were received, he said.
“I operate in the realm of hope,” said Amore, who has worked with the FBI and US attorney’s office on the investigation for nearly 12 years. “We are never going to stop looking for these paintings.”
The brazen heist — the largest property crime in US history — occurred in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990. Two thieves disguised as police officers claimed to be investigating a disturbance when they showed up at the museum’s side door on Palace Road in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. They were buzzed inside by a 23-year-old security guard, who, by his own admission, has never been eliminated as a suspect.
The thieves wrapped duct tape around the hands, eyes, and mouths of the two guards on duty, then left them handcuffed in the museum’s basement as they spent 81 minutes slashing and pulling masterpieces from their frames.
In the days after the robbery, FBI and Boston police crime scene analysts scoured the museum for clues. They lifted partial fingerprints from the empty frames but found no matches in the FBI database.
At the time, DNA evidence was in its infancy. But scientific advances have since opened new doors for investigators, cracking unsolved cases across the country.
DNA experts said it’s possible the thieves’ DNA couldbe pulled from the duct tape, although the chances are slim. Success hinges on a number of variables, such as how the evidence was preserved and how many people handled it while freeing the guards and storing it.
“Certainly people have retrieved DNA from samples that old, but how much you can get is the big question,” said Robin Cotton, director of the Biomedical Forensic Sciences Program at the Boston University School of Medicine.
Analysts would also need DNA samples from the police officers who removed the tape to distinguish their DNA from the thieves, Cotton said.
Tom Evans, scientific director of the DNA Enzymes Division at New England Biolabs, an Ipswich firm that conducts DNA testing, said technology has come so far that it may take only a single cell to identify someone through DNA analysis. But DNA breaks down over time, especially in hot or humid conditions.
“Twenty-seven years later, it might work and it might fail,” Evans said.
The statute of limitations on the theft expired years ago, but authorities could still bring criminal charges for hiding or transporting the stolen artwork. The US attorney’s office has offered immunity in exchange for the return of the paintings.
Four years ago, the FBI announced it was confident it had identified the thieves — local criminals who have since died — and had determined that the stolen artwork traveled through organized crime circles from Boston to Connecticut to Philadelphia, where the trail went cold around 2003.
In 2010, the FBI began focusing on Gentile after the widow of another person of interest in the theft, Robert Guarente, told agents that her late husband had given two of the stolen paintings to Gentile before he died in 2004.
Federal authorities allege that Gentile offered to sell some of the stolen paintings to an undercover FBI agent in 2015 for $500,000 apiece. They remain convinced that he is holding back what he knows.
However, Gentile’s lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, said his client insists he has nothing to offer investigators and recently told him, “They could make the reward $100 million and it wouldn’t change anything because there ain’t no paintings.”
Another person who has come under renewed scrutiny in recent years is Richard Abath, the guard who opened the door for the thieves. A Berklee College of Music dropout who played in a rock ’n’ roll band while working at the museum, he has steadfastly maintained that he played no role in the heist.
Authorities have said that motion sensors that recorded the thieves’ steps as they moved through the museum indicate they never entered the first-floor gallery where Manet’s “Chez Tortoni” was stolen. Only Abath’s steps, as he made his rounds before the thieves arrived, were picked up there, they have said.
Steve Keller, a security consultant hired by the museum, said he tested the motion sensors after the theft and determined they were reliable. He said he entered and left the room several times where the Manet had been stolen, even crawling on his hands and knees in an effort to avoid detection. Each time the sensors detected his presence.
Abath declined to comment.
Former US attorney Brian T. Kelly, who previously oversaw efforts to recover the Gardner artwork, said he remains hopeful the masterpieces will be recovered.
“All it takes is a new lead that leads in a new direction and a lucky break or two,” Kelly said.
Shelley Murphy can be reached at shelley.murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph. Stephen Kurkjian can be reached at stephenkurkjian@gmail.com
Art Hostage Comments:
 So many false leads, controlled oposition etc.
The FBI insist any Gardner art recovery is done on their terms and includes arrests/indictments etc.
The Gardner Museum has also been bullied into towing the line therefore any reward includes conditions that allows refusal of reward payment, for example the insistance on all the art work being recovered in "Good condition" before any reward would be paid out.

The museum’s trustees also felt they were being kept in the dark about the status of the investigation. Trustee Francis W. Hatch, Jr. recalled one meeting held ostensibly to gain a briefing from the agent and supervisor on the case. “They wouldn’t tell us anything about what they thought of the robbery
or who they considered suspects,” Hatch recalls. “It was
very embarrassing to all of us.”

"Hatch convinced the trustees that the museum needed to hire a fi rm to investigate, and stay in touch with the FBI on its probe. IGI, a private investigative firm based in Washington begun by Terry Lenzner, who had cut his teeth as a lawyer for the Senate Watergate Committee, was put on retainer, and the executive assigned to the case was Larry Potts, a former top
deputy in the FBI. Fearful that their authority was being undercut, the FBI’s
supervisors in Boston complained to US attorney Wayne Budd, who fired off a memo warning the museum that it faced prosecution if it withheld information relevant to the investigation. Hatch responded, saying in his letter that he
was “shocked and saddened” by Budd’s attempt to “intimidate” the museum and that it cast “a pall over future cooperative efforts.” From Master Thieves by Stephen Kurkjian


Wow! It's almost as if one of the thieves was untouchable, like because he was the star witness testifying in a German court in absentia against the ringleader of the longest running spy ring in American history, Clyde Lee Conrad, and was also implicating himself and two other spies he himself had recruited, at that time, like Boston area native Rod Ramsay, or somebody like that.

Climbing the Charts in March of 1990

"U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otCpCn0l4Wo
Ramsay's college roommate at Charles River Park in Boston 1980-1981 was Darryl Nitke. Nitke had been roommates at Eton College with Muhammad Khashoggi, they remained friends and Nitke's brother in law and business associate Bedros Bedrossian was formerly business partners with with Muhammad's sister, Nabila Khashoggi in the mid-80's.
http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1985-06-10/business/8501230280_1_computer-foreign-visitors-smith-gallery

Nitke was a guest on the Khashoggi yacht for a cruise in 1982.

Adnan Khahsoggi's jury trial for among other things museum fine art theft began two days after the Gardner Heist
http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1988/01/08/page/14/article/artwork-confiscated-in-probe-of-marcos

The Gardner Museum doubled the reward right before Khahsoggi died after a long illness on June 6, 2017. #LOCALTOUGHS


Interesting that the announcement for doubling the reward to ten million came out 5/23/17 as Adnan Khahsoggi was dying of Parkinsons Disease. He died 6/6/17.

Khahsoggi went on trial in New York City 2 days after the Gardner Heist for among other fine art theft.
http://www.upi.com/Archives/1990/03/19/Imelda-Marcos-to-go-on-trial-Tuesday/9284637822800/

He had a very elaborate network set up for stolen fine art transit.

"In addition, more than thirty paintings, valued at $200 million, that Imelda Marcos had allegedly purloined from the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, including works by Rubens, El Greco, Picasso, and Degas, were being stored by Khashoggi for the Marcoses, but it turned out that the pictures had been sold to Khashoggi as part of a cover-up. The art treasures were first hidden on his yacht and then moved to his penthouse in Cannes. The penthouse was raided by the French police in a search for the pictures in April 1987, but it is believed that Khashoggi had been tipped off. He turned over nine of the paintings to the police, claiming to have sold the others to a Panamanian company, but investigators believe that he sold the pictures back to himself. The rest of the loot is thought to be in Athens. If he is found guilty, such charges could get him up to ten years in an American slammer."

http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/1989/09/dunne198909

Some of the Gardner art may have reached the Middle East, making it much harder to recover.
Some of the Gardner art may be in terrible condition preventing any recovery because any reward would be negated by this, see Gardner museums conditions of recovery in "Good condition"

The Gardner case has been a political tug of war, with all sides refusing to give an inch.
Food for thought:
If they believe the thieves are deceased why did they only just recently stipulate that the thieves are not eligible for the reward?

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/05/23/gardner-museum-doubles-reward-for-stolen-treasures-million/fwmaKMy9oDLLytq78CJCTI/story.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/arts/design/gardner-museum-doubles-reward-for-recovery-of-stolen-masterpieces.html


From this article: "Plagued by the deaths of suspects, defiant mobsters."

Beat that local toughs theory into the ground Boston Globe. Last month the FBI said the know who the guy in the video is, but they're not saying if he was there for a legitimate reason or not. So obviously he wsa there for an illegitimate reason. And he most certainly is not a local tough so the whole local tough or any kind of mafia type theory is thoroughly discredited.

Abath has no known associations with local toughs and this guy talking to ABath is not a local tough or any kind of mafia type. Kurkjian reported in November of 2015 that four security guards said it was retired Lt. Colonel and Gardner Security supervisor Larry O'Brian, which is ridiculous, but it points to the fact that by his haircut, clothing, and comportment, this was a guy who could be mistaken for a security supervisor. Could Donati, or DiMuzio, or Reissfelder, be mistaken for a security supervisor by security guards on a surveillance video? I don't think so.

There has never been a scintilla of evidence supporting that theory. The whole theory was just a full employment for program FBI agents and their friends in journalism. And the dead suspects were just convenient props who would not be able to stand up for themselves, be publicly vetted or file a lawsuit.

From the New York Times in March of 2015 by Tom Mashberg:

"But on his PowerPoint, Mr. Kelly showed me that Mr. Reissfelder and Mr. DiMuzio closely resembled police sketches of the two men who had entered the museum.
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/arts/design/isabella-stewart-gardner-heist-25-years-of-theories.html

Notice that Mashberg doesn't say they look like the police sketches. Nor does Kelly get quoted saying that. How absurd? It's like trying to translate the Soviet house organ Pravda into Russian.

In the Globe's article about the Powerpoint 3/17/15, a couple of weeks later, Shelley Murphy, evidently couldn't bring herself to mention Leonard DiMuzio by name. Can you blame her? DiMuzio, the victim of an unsolved homicide, was an honorably discharged Marine Corp corporal, and a Viet Nam vet. He does NOT resemble the police sketch. The New York Times described him as a "skillful burglar" which probably means they had not caught him yet.

Reissfelder, a bad check writer, who liked to talk like a tough guy spent 16 years in prison for a robbery/murder he did not commit and was exonerated. After he got out in 1982, he slept with the lights on.

But get ready for the real "CATCH" from this article by Murphy about Reissfelder

"The catch: Reissfelder was 50 at the time of the heist, and the guards estimated one thief was in his late 20s to early 30s and the other was in his 30s. However, Kelly said he doesn’t believe the age estimates were reliable."

So Kelly says he thinks that two guys in their twenties one a 27 year old with a Master's Degree from the New England Conservatory can't differentiate between someone in their 30's and a 51 year old drug addict who had spent half of his adult life in Walpole State Prison.

Link to original story from 3/17/15
Ref: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/03/17/gardner-museum-art-heist-one-boston-most-enduring-mysteries-years-later/9U3tp1kJMa4Zn4uClI1cdM/story.html

And Robert Gentile is the only "defiant" mobster. He says he didn't do it. Stephen Kurkjian says he wasn't involved. Kurkjian's name is on this article. How is Gentile's defiance any kind of "plague?"

The I.T. Revolution did not end yesterday morning and it is not ending tomorrow morning. Get real. The paintings may or may not come back but the truth about who did it is coming out. It was not local toughs.
The Boston FBI conducted the "investigation" the way they were told from higher up, in Washington from the beginning. It's time for Washington to leave Boston alone on this now.

“The place is so wonderful now that we tend to forget what a horrendous thing it was to have happened,” [back then Governor Michael] Dukakis recalled recently. “The wearing of police uniforms always bothered me, and then the SEEMING difficulty of being able to identify them.”

Hawley too, he said, has shared with him and his wife, Kitty, a very close friend, her frustration that the FBI has been unable to recover any of the stolen pieces. “She’s frustrated, HIGHLY SKEPTICAL about a lot of the stuff,”
he said. “She’s gotten tired with everything. Enough already.” from Master Thieves by Stepehn Kurkjian

Dear Washington: Enough already!!!
This was not made public until 2013:

"We also were threatened by criminals who WANTED attention from the FBI Nobody knew really what kind of a cauldron we were in." Anne Hawley 12/4/13
https://youtu.be/WwnQs1BvvlU?t=44

What kind of criminals WANT attention from the FBI?

I don't know what kind of cauldron we're in, but from the smell of it, I think I know what it is we're sharing it with.
Who cares? I mean it is bad, but they already know who did it. This seems like a diversionary, gaslighting, in-emergency-break-glass, non-story designed to regain control of the narrative by pumping up pointless data with media steroids and pumping it out into the information stream on this.

Here is some Real News:

Last week CNN was brought to heel over a story written by art historian and art theft EXPERT Noah Charney. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/magazine/17art.t.html


CNN was somehow compelled or persuaded to re-write an article about the Gardner Heist reward being doubled to ten million written by Charney. They didn't acknowledge any errors, but they did put in this disclaimer:

"Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained unsupported details regarding the night of the heist and subsequent investigations, which have now been removed. Ever see anything like that before?"
http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/07/arts/gardner-museum-art-heist/index.html

You can see Charney on American Greed Season Two Episode Nine "Unsolved: $300 Million Art Heist / Preying On Faith" on Hulu matter of factly contradicting the FBI's Geoff Kelly who appears on the same episode to discuss the Gardner Heist
https://www.hulu.com/watch/46551#i0,p5,d0


Then on Friday Emily Rooney smeared Charney at the end of the show, describing this established art theft expert incompletely as an art novelist, and one who is indifferent to facts, and whose original story had "ten egregious errors." But Rooney has not said what any of the errors were and CNN is not doing a correction. So all we have for egregious errors in the public domain is Rooney's description of Noah Charney's professional background, character and ability to render facts on paper for a news story.
https://youtu.be/jmfXv-MT8nM?t=344

Ask any random person to go on google and give them 3 minutes to come up with a 50 word description of Noah Charney and see if they do any better than Emily Rooney did.
https://www.google.com/search?q=noah+charney&oq=noah+charney&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i59l3j0l2.2360j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

If Gardner Heist coverage seems strange it is because there is a bigger story behind it, and an even bigger story ahead of it and that is this:

We are entering "a time of informational chaos, when rival versions of reality are fighting for narrative supremacy."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/11/business/media/comey-trump-watergate.html

And the Gardner Heist story is one place where this rivalry is playing itself out. It is a prelude to what appears to be just how things are going to be for a while and getting rid of Trump is not going to solve it.

Charney's story (the current version) suggests that raising the reward is an act of desperation. One thing we know is that the suggestion of a Boston Globe editorial from the time of 25th anniversary is unlikely to be considered no matter how hopeless things get in this 27 year old saga:

"After decades of frustration, the FBI ought to try opening its files on the Gardner Museum heist in hopes that fresh vision will help crack Boston’s most notorious unsolved mystery."
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2015/03/16/fbi-should-open-files-gardner-heist/Zi1QvPDNIlOfjchuidB1JO/story.html

Truth up!
 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist , Art Hostage Plan Takes Off


Gardner Museum Doubles Reward For Stolen Art To $10M

Nearing 30 years after the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, the search is still on for the missing masterpieces — and now, the reward has been doubled.
The museum's Board of Trustees announced Tuesday that it is doubling the from $5 million to $10 million for information leading to the return of the 13 stolen artworks.
The announcement came a day after the feds arrested a West Virginia man who had offered to sell some of the paintings on Craigslist. He was bluffing about having the paintings and is now charged with wire fraud.
But the new reward comes with an expiration date. The increased offer is only available until midnight on Dec. 31, 2017.
“These works of art were purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner for the ‘education and enjoyment of the public forever,’" said Steve Kidder, president of the Gardner Museum’s Board, in a statement. “It is our fervent hope that by increasing the reward, our resolve is clear that we want the safe return of the works to their rightful place and back in public view.”
This isn't the first time that the reward has been raised in hopes of recovering the valuable works. The paintings were stolen on March 18, 1990  in what is the largest property crime in U.S. history.
In 1997, the museum increased the reward money from $1 million to $5, making it the largest private reward in the world, according to the museum.
"Twenty years later, the announcement of a $10 million reward sends a strong message that museum officials are serious about their commitment to bring the works back," the museum said in a statement.
The doubling of the reward was under discussion for a year and approved by the museum's board on Tuesday.
The stolen artworks include works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Manet and Degas. The 13 missing pieces are worth an estimated $500 million. The Concert is only one of 36 total paintings by Vermeer and The Storm on the Sea of Galilee marks Rembrandt's only seascape, according to the museum, and both are among "the most valuable stolen objects in the world."
Museum officials are looking to hear from anyone with information about the paintings' whereabouts.
“We encourage anyone with information to contact the Museum directly, and we guarantee complete confidentiality,” said Anthony Amore, the museum’s security director, in a statement. “This offer is a sign that our investigation remains active. Our hope is that anyone with knowledge that might further our work will come forward.”
Though it's been 27 years since the artworks were stolen, museum officials remain hopeful.
“Typically stolen masterpieces are either recovered soon after a theft or a generation later,” Amore said. “We remain optimistic that these works will ultimately be recovered.”
Anyone with information can contact Amore at (617) 278-5114 or by emailing theft@gardnermuseum.org.
BOSTON (CBS) – The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has announced that it is doubling its reward for information leading to the return of 13 works of art that were stolen in 1990.
The museum’s Board of Trustees announced Tuesday that it has increased the reward from $5 million to $10 million. The reward is “available immediately” but expires at midnight on December 31, 2017.
“We encourage anyone with information to contact the Museum directly, and we guarantee complete confidentiality,” said Anthony Amore, the Museum’s Security Director. “This offer is a sign that our investigation remains active. Our hope is that anyone with knowledge that might further our work will come forward.”

“We encourage anyone with information to contact the Museum directly, and we guarantee complete confidentiality,” said Anthony Amore, the Museum’s Security Director. “This offer is a sign that our investigation remains active. Our hope is that anyone with knowledge that might further our work will come forward.”
gardner1 Gardner Museum Doubles Reward For Stolen Art To $10M
Empty frame at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (CBS)
On March 18, 1990, two men disguised as police officers tied up the security guards and stole 13 pieces of art, including rare paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer from the museum in Boston.
 In 1997, the museum increased its reward from $1 million to $5 million. The new $10 million reward is available immediately but expires at midnight on Dec. 31.
The combined value of the art is estimate at $500 million. It remains the largest art heist in history.

Art Hostage Comments:
Art Hostage has been calling for this for over a decade as it might temp those who have the ability to hand back the Gardner art.
However, there are further things that need to be offered to reassure those who might consider stepping forward.
The conditions of any returned Gardner art being in so called "Good Condition" is a block as condition will likely play a big part. A complete tarrif should be published with a reward amount for each stolen Gardner artwork.
The so called immunity offered by the Boston DA  needs to be made public and what exact conditions would be applied.
The distinct lack of specifics prevents progress.
The ability of anyone stepping forward to walk away if they feel they cannot get legal assurances is the biggest factor in no-one stepping forward.
Finally, there are things going on behind the scenes and as ever, hope springs eternal that some Gardner art might be recovered.
Odds are a minor work such as a Degas drawing would be offered as a test case, then if successful, followed by Rembrandts Storm on the Sea.
Any hand back of Gardner art should be done by way of a location given, Catholic Church confession box being the Art Hostage location of choice, then no-one needs to be arrested at the recovery.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Stolen Art Watch, Bobby The Cook Gentile, Gardner Art Remains Elusive As He Admits Weapons Charge

Robert Gentile, A Suspect In Gardner Museum Art Heist, Agrees To Plead Guilty To Weapons Charges

Robert "The Cook" Gentile, the geriatric gangster and key person of interest in the $500 million Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist, has agreed to plead guilty to federal weapons charges that he has long complained were contrived by the FBI to force his cooperation.
The plea agreement, reached Tuesday, appears likely to end a bitter standoff between the 80-year old Hartford hoodlum and investigators hunting for 13 masterworks that disappeared in the 1990 Gardner robbery in Boston, the world's most expensive and perhaps most baffling art theft.
It is unlikely, however, to move investigators any closer to the missing art. 
Since the widow of a mob associate tied him to the art in 2015, investigators have attacked Gentile with cooperating witnesses, informants, undercover lawmen, secret tape recordings and an endless string of his own incriminating statements. The result is what prosecutors presented in court as a persuasive case that, while not involved in the actual robbery, he was part of a Mafia crew that later acquired some of the art and he had personal possession of two paintings for at least a brief period about 15 years ago.



A variety of sources said Gentile could plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Hartford next week to as many as five felony weapons charges. Information was not available on what sentence he can expect. But it could be relatively short if Gentile gets credit for the time he has been jailed since his last arrest.He has been imprisoned for much of the past past seven years following convictions and arrests on drug and gun charges. Late last summer, wildly overweight and confined to a wheelchair, Gentile collapsed at an institution for federal prisoners outside Providence.He was taken first to a Rhode Island hospital, moved to a private hospital for inmates in South Carolina and eventually to a federal prison in North Carolina that serves as a nursing home for aging convicts. In recent days, much recovered, he was transferred to a state prison in Bridgeport while his lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham negotiated a guilty plea. Neither would comment on the case.
A source with knowledge of the events said Gentile has experienced a remarkable turnaround. He was unable to walk six months ago, but has slimmed down and ambles when permitted, with a walker.
"He looks like a million dollars," the source said.
When he was first tied to the heist, Gentile agreed to cooperate, but federal prosecutors tore up the agreement within months after they determined he was lying to a federal grand jury.
Afterward, the FBI made him the target of a series of drug and gun stings, telling him in every case that he would be treated with leniency if he helped recover the art. Gentile repeatedly denied having knowledge of the art.
After his release from a sentence for drug sales, Gentile was arrested again within months for selling a loaded handgun to a convicted murderer working as an FBI undercover operative. While in prison awaiting trial on the gun charge the FBI searched his house — the third such search — and found three more guns and a silencer.
A federal judge once remarked that Gentile's modest ranch home in Manchester was a "veritable arsenal."
During interviews with The Courant, Gentile denied having any knowledge of the robbery or the art and said, if he might have suggested otherwise, it was because he was trying to swindle people who were offering to buy it. He said the information collected by the FBI is false.
"Lies," he said. "All lies. A frame-up."
In what became characteristic of the standoff between Gentile and the authorities, Durham rejected Gentile assertions in court last year. He said, among other things, that:
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, 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.
Guarente's wife told Gardner investigators early in 2010 that her husband once had possession of stolen Gardner art and transferred two paintings to Gentile before Guarente died from cancer in 2004.
Gardner investigators had reason to suspect Gentile since about 2010, 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.
Some of the most important art ever created disappeared about 1:30 a.m. on March 18, 1990, as St. Patrick's Day celebrations wound down around Boston. Two men dressed as police officers bluffed their way into the museum, a century-old, Italianate mansion that was full of uninsured art and protected by an outdated security system
Among the missing art: a Vermeer, a Manet and five drawings by Degas. Two of the paintings — "Storm on the Sea of Galilee," Rembrandt's only known seascape, and Vermeer's "The Concert" — could be worth substantially more than $100 million.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist 2017, 27 Years Ago Today


Today marks 27 years since the Gardner Art Heist, more to follow.............

Six theories behind the stolen Gardner Museum paintings

An empty frame where Rembrandt's “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Globe Archive Photo
An empty frame where Rembrandt's “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Twenty-seven years after two thieves disguised as police officers talked their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, tied up the guards and fled with masterpieces worth an estimated $500 milion, it remains the world’s largest art heist and one of Boston’s most baffling mysteries.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, File / AP
"The Storm on the Sea of Galilee" by Rembrandt, one of more than a dozen works of art stolen by burglars in the early hours of March 18, 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
For 81 minutes during the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, the thieves pulled and slashed treasured works from their frames. They stole 13 pieces, including three Rembrandts, among them his only seascape, “Storm on the Sea of Galilee”; Vermeer’s “The Concert”; and works by Flinck, Manet and Degas.
In a puzzling twist, they walked by more valuable pieces, yet swiped an ancient Chinese vase and a bronze finial eagle from atop a Napoleonic flag.
None of the works have ever been recovered, despite the offer of a $5 million reward for information leading to their safe return and promises of immunity. And nobody has ever been charged with the crime. The FBI announced two years ago that it was confident it had identified the thieves -- two local criminals who died shortly after the heist -- but declined to name them.
The FBI said it believed the artwork was moved through organized crime circles to Philadelphia, where the trail went cold around 2003.

The investigation remains active and ongoing, according to Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Boston office, who urged anyone with information about the whereabouts of the missing works to contact the FBI, the museum, or a third party.
“We have determined that in the years since the theft, the art was transported to the Connecticut and Philadelphia regions, but we haven’t been able to identify where the art is right now,” Setera said.
Anthony Amore, the museum’s security director, said he remains hopeful that the artwork will be returned.
“We are still receiving tips and we really hope the public will send us what they know,” Amore said. “What we’re hoping for are facts, as opposed to theories.”
The heist has generated countless theories, involving a dizzying array of suspects, from Irish gunrunners and Corsican mobsters to a Hollywood screenwriter and petty thieves.
Here are some of the most intriguing theories considered by investigators over the years:
The Merlino crew:
The FBI has focused heavily in recent years on the theory that local criminals with mob ties were behind the heist, and said it believes that the two thieves who entered the museum died a short time later. The suspects frequented a Dorchester repair shop operated by Carmello Merlino, a mob associate who boasted to two informants that he planned to recover the artwork and collect the reward. Instead, he was caught in an FBI sting in 1999 and convicted of trying to rob an armored car depot. Despite offers of leniency in return for the stolen artwork, Merlino never produced it and died in prison in 2005.
The theory, outlined by the FBI in a PowerPoint presentation a couple of years ago, is that Merlino’s associates, George Reissfelder and Leonard DiMuzio, who both died in 1991, were involved in the theft, along with David Turner and possibly others. Reissfelder, 51, of Quincy, died of a cocaine overdose. DiMuzio, 43, of Rockland, was found shot to death in East Boston. Turner, 49, of Braintree, was convicted in the armored car robbery case with Merlino and is scheduled to be released from prison in 2025.
The FBI believes the stolen artwork ended up in the hands of Robert “Unc” Guarente, a convicted bank robber with ties to the Mafia in Boston and Philadelphia, who died in 2004.
In 2010, Guarente’s wife, Elene, told the FBI that shortly before her husband’s death, he gave two of the stolen paintings to a Connecticut mobster, Robert Gentile, during a rendezvous in Maine, according to authorities.
Eighty-year-old Gentile, who is in failing health and currently in jail awaiting trial on federal gun charges, was ensnared in two FBI stings and promised leniency in exchange for the stolen artwork. He insists he knows nothing about the stolen artwork. But authorities allege that he offered to sell the paintings several years ago for $500,000 each to an undercover FBI agent.
An inside job?
Richard E. Abath, the 23-year-old night watchman who buzzed the door to let the thieves inside, has said he believed their claim that they were police officers, investigating a disturbance. He said he knew there were St. Patrick’s Day parties in the neighborhood and thought pranksters could have climbed the iron fence and gotten onto the museum’s property.
Once inside, the thieves handcuffed and duct-taped Abath and the other guard on duty and left them in the basement while they robbed the museum.
Abath steadfastly maintains that he played no role in the heist and said he felt honored to be guarding the museum’s priceless art. But he told The Globe in 2013 that he had been told directly by a federal investigator several years before, “You know, we’ve never been able to eliminate you as a suspect.”
His actions the night of the theft and his lifestyle at the time have raised questions. He was a music school dropout and a member of a rock band. He acknowledged in prior Globe interviews that he often showed up at work drunk or stoned, and, in a major security breach, ushered a small group of friends into the museum after hours for a New Year’s Eve party.
Authorities have said the museum’s security protocol prohibited entry of unauthorized personnel, including police, but Abath said he was unaware of that. When the purported officers ordered Abath to step away from the back of the security desk, he complied — removing himself from the museum’s only emergency alarm to the outside world. Abath said he followed orders to avoid being arrested, because he had tickets to attend a Grateful Dead concert later that day in Hartford.
Motion sensors that recorded the thieves’ steps as they moved through the museum indicate they never entered the first-floor gallery where Manet’s Chez Tortoni was stolen, according to the FBI and Amore. Only Abath’s steps, as he made his rounds before the thieves arrived, were picked up there, they said. The sensors also revealed that Abath briefly opened the side door to the museum on Palace Road shortly before he buzzed the thieves in at the same entrance.
Two years ago, federal authorities released a six-minute video taken by the museum’s security system, which shows Abath allowing a man identified by investigators as an “unauthorized visitor” into the museum the night before it was robbed. The man, who has not been identified, spoke to Abath for several minutes at the security desk before leaving. Law enforcement officials said the video raises questions about whether the man was conducting a dry run for the robbery, which occurred just over 24 hours later. When confronted by authorities about the video a couple of years ago, Abath said he didn’t recognize the man and had no recollection of the encounter, according to those familiar with the investigation. Abath has declined to comment on the video.

Globe File Photo
California screenwriter
Brian McDevitt had relocated from Boston to the Hollywood Hills, where he was working as a screenwriter, when his past came back to haunt him. The FBI eyed him as a possible suspect in the Gardner heist in the early 1990s because he was involved in a bungled art robbery in New York a decade earlier that had striking similarities.
McDevitt, a Swampscott native, and an accomplice hijacked a Federal Express truck in 1980 and knocked out the driver with ether. Dressed in Federal Express uniforms and carrying duct tape to bind museum employees and tools to cut paintings from their frames, the pair planned to rob the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, N.Y.
The plan was foiled when they got stuck in traffic and arrived at the museum shortly after it closed. They were later identified by the Federal Express driver and confessed. McDevitt, who was 20 at the time, served a few months in jail for the attempted robbery.
McDevitt was living in a Beacon Hill apartment when the two thieves dressed as police officers entered the Gardner museum, tied the two guards up with duct tape, and cut some of the masterpieces from their frames. He was interviewed by the FBI a couple of times in 1992, then questioned before a federal grand jury in Boston the following year. At the time, his lawyer told the Globe that McDevitt knows “absolutely nothing” about the Gardner heist and couldn’t provide any information that would help investigators.
McDevitt died in Colombia in 2004. He was 43.
The Myles Connor and William Youngworth saga
It looked like the breakthrough investigators had been waiting for. On Aug. 27, 1997, under a front-page headline that screamed “We’ve Seen It!” The Boston Herald wrote that reporter Tom Mashberg had been shown Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee.”
“Under the soft glow of a flashlight, the painting was delicately pulled out and unfurled by the informant and shown to a reporter during the predawn hours of Aug. 18,” the article said.
Although Mashberg later said he had apparently been shown a replica, the article sparked months of negotiations between federal authorities and William P. Youngworth Jr., the informant, in an effort to turn the alleged sighting in a Brooklyn warehouse into a recovery of all the missing artwork.
Youngworth, a Brighton antiques dealer, sought several concessions: the $5 million reward; immunity from any prosecution related to the theft; the dismissal of state criminal charges pending against him; and the release of his friend Myles Connor Jr., a notorious art thief from Milton then serving a 10-year prison term on federal drug charges.
Connor was in prison at the time of the heist, but investigators had long speculated he was cunning enough to get his hands on the stolen artwork.
US Attorney Donald K. Stern demanded that Youngworth provide “credible and concrete evidence” that he could deliver the stolen artwork if his demands were met. Youngworth produced a vial of paint fragments that he said were from one of the stolen Rembrandts.
In December 1997, Stern and the FBI announced that the fragments were not from a Rembrandt and the deal fell apart.
Yet, in an intriguing twist, an analysis of the fragments done years later indicated they were consistent with paint used by other 17th century Dutch artists, including Vermeer, whose masterpiece, The Concert, was another of the paintings stolen from the Gardner.
Youngworth, now living in western Massachusetts, for years has rejected requests for interviews about the saga to recover the Gardner artwork. Mashberg said he now believes that whatever Youngworth showed him for a few seconds in the soft glow of a flashlight was not Rembrandt’s, “The Storm” but a replica.
Why? Because the priceless seascape, before the theft, had been covered with protective coating to help preserve it, which would have made it impossible to roll up.
"Chez Tortoni" by Manet.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum / AP
"Chez Tortoni" by Manet.
Notorious South Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger
The Gardner heist happened at a time when Bulger was Boston’s preeminent gangster, working covertly as an FBI informant. The South Boston crime boss oversaw a sprawling criminal enterprise that rivaled the Mafia and there was widespread speculation that even if he didn’t have a hand in the heist, he likely knew who did. But the FBI and US Attorney’s office said there’s no evidence linking him to the crime.
One of Bulger’s closest associates told the Globe during a 2010 interview that Bulger and his sidekick, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, were not involved in the theft, but made their own unsuccessful search for the artwork.
“He was trying to find out who did do it,” said Kevin Weeks, adding that Bulger wanted the paintings to use in the future as a “get out of jail free card.”
When Bulger was captured in Santa Monica, Calif. in 2011 after more than 16 years on the run, the FBI found $822,000 in cash and 30 guns stuffed in the walls of his apartment. There was never a whiff about the stolen artwork, and Bulger is now serving a life sentence for 11 murders.
Robert Donati and Mafia capo Vincent Ferrara
Once one of Boston’s most feared Mafia capos, Vincent Ferrara is at the center of another theory on why the Gardner theft took place – to spring him from federal prison.
According to a person familiar with the account, Ferrara’s close associate, Robert Donati, visited him twice in prison shortly after the Gardner heist and confessed that he had stolen the artwork and planned to use it as a bargaining chip to win Ferrara’s release.
However, Donati said he was worried about the intense FBI manhunt for the thieves. He said he was going to hide the stolen treasures and lay low for a while before reaching out to negotiate an exchange for Ferrara’s freedom.
Donati’s death came before any overture was made, according to authorities. His body was found in September 1991, stuffed in the trunk of his white Cadillac, parked on a street about a half-mile from his Revere home. He he had been viciously beaten and stabbed.
The theory involving Ferrara, who was released from prison in 2005, is not the only time Donati’s name has surfaced as a possible suspect.
Myles Connor Jr., the renowned art thief, says he and Donati often talked about flaws they perceived in the Gardner museum’s security system and would climb trees around the perimeter of the museum, to try to figure out a possible robbery scheme. One time he said they cased the museum and he told Donati he wanted the Chinese vase, the same one that was stolen in 1990.
In his 2009 biography, “The Art of The Heist: Confessions of a Master Art Thief, Rock-and-Roller and Prodigal Son,” Connors wrote that an old friend, David Houghton, visited him in federal prison in California after the heist and told him that Donati was one of the thieves.
But, Houghton, who died of a heart attack the year after the heist, said Donati planned to use the stolen masterworks to bargain for Connor’s release from prison.