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The Gardner Museum Heist Visit

I don’t always agree with the saying that “there is no such thing as bad publicity”, but P.T. Barnum may have been right when it applies to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It’s what made me want to go to this museum, while in Boston last week.


(picture taken by world renowned photographer Joel Bieber)

This empty frame “hangs” where Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” once hung. Why only the frame?

In the early hours of March 18, 1990, guards at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum opened the door to admit two “police officers”, who were responding to a disturbance call. Once they were inside, the men tied up the guards. Then stole thirteen works of art over a period of 1 hour, valued at $500 million. Initially it was suspected to be an inside job.

Despite numerous tips and a reward offer of 5 million dollars, the crime is still unsolved. In 2017, the reward was even increased to 10 million dollars. These folks are serious!

The stolen pieces of art were originally purchased by Isabelle Stewart Gardner during the early 1900’s. (she had inheritted family money)  She intended the artwork to be left on permanent display at the museum, with the rest of her collection. Now that the paintings have been stolen and not returned, empty frames remain hanging as homage to the missing paintings as well placeholders, because the museum continues to hope for their return.

Here’s what Wikipedia describes regarding clues about the heist:

According to the FBI, the stolen artwork was moved through the region and offered for sale in Philadelphia during the early 2000s. They believe the thieves were members of a criminal organization based in the mid-Atlantic and New England. They also claim to have identified two suspects, although they have not been publicly identified and are now deceased. Boston gangster Bobby Donati, murdered in 1991 as a result of ongoing gang wars, has been cited as a possible collaborator in the heist. Significant evidence suggests that Hartford, Connecticut gangster Robert Gentile knows the location of the works, although he denies involvement.

There have been books written about the heist (The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft). a movie/documentary titled Stolen (here). And speculation about why the paintings have not been recovered. (Boston Globe)

Will they solve the largest art heist? For now, it remains open and unsolved. However, there was a line at the door on a Saturday morning, while people waited for the musuem to open. It felt like a concert. Meanwhile down the street, there was no line at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The P.T. Barnum theory? I blog… you decide!

For pic o’ day, I am attaching two. They made me laugh and they relate to food, as I continue to work on trying to lose my “cruising weight”:





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