The FBI says it has solved the decades-old mystery of who stole $500m worth of art from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, but it is withholding the identities of the thieves, adding a further twist to the largest property heist in US history.
On the 23rd anniversary of the theft,
authorities announced a new publicity campaign aimed at generating tips on what they still do not know: where the missing art is. Their focus has shifted from catching the thieves to bringing home the precious work, including paintings by Rembrandt, Manet, Degas and Vermeer.
“The key goal here is to recover those paintings and bring them back,” US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said at a news conference at the FBI’s Boston headquarters.
Just after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men posing as police officers pulled off the heist, stealing 13 pieces of art in 81 minutes.
For more than two decades, the FBI has chased leads around the globe, finally making progress over the last few years so that they now believe they know the identity of the thieves.
The FBI’s Richard DesLauriers says the agency believes the thieves belonged to a criminal organisation based in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. He said authorities believe the art was taken to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region in the years after the theft, and offered for sale in Philadelphia about a decade ago.
After the attempted sale, the FBI does not know what happened to the art, he added.