“It remains the largest art heist in history, a brazen robbery in which two thieves disguised as police officers walked into Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, disabled two guards and stole masterworks worth more than half a billion dollars.
The 1990 robbery and the recovery of the paintings have puzzled investigators for more than two decades.
Now federal authorities appear to be pinning some hope of solving the mystery on a 75-year-old reputed mobster from Connecticut, Robert Gentile, who is jailed in a drug case.
The FBI believes Robert Gentile “had some involvement in connection with stolen property” related to the art heist, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham said in federal court in Hartford this week. Durham said FBI agents have had unproductive discussions with Gentile about the theft, but didn’t elaborate on his allegations.
Gentile’s attorney, A. Ryan McGuigan, called the notion preposterous. He said Gentile has lived with his wife in the same small house in a Hartford suburb for 50 years and has no idea what prosecutors are talking about.
“He doesn’t know anything about art, he’s never been to an art gallery in his life, couldn’t tell a Rembrandt from an Elvis painting,” McGuigan said in an interview.
Durham spoke at a hearing over whether bail should be set for Gentile in the drug case. A judge ordered Gentile to remain held without bail, saying he’s too dangerous.
Prosecutors declined to comment further.
Authorities first approached Gentile about the art heist about two years ago, McGuigan said.
“They’re not interviewing him about him actually participating in the heist,” McGuigan said. “They may or may have not interviewed him about any knowledge that he may have about the whereabouts of the paintings.”
When Gentile offered no information, authorities dispatched an undercover witness to buy prescription drugs from him, McGuigan said.
“They set you up and entrap you and throw you in a federal prison at 75 years old until you’ll be tortured enough to talk to them about information that you don’t have,” McGuigan said.
If Gentile were some type of arch-criminal, he would have figured a way to get the $5 million reward offered in the case, McGuigan said.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist
Director of Security at the Gardner, Anthony Amore, takes us through the events of the robbery. Listen to the show here.
Gentile, of Manchester, Conn., and associate Anthony Parente, also 75, were charged last month with selling prescription painkillers that were obtained illegally. Federal agents say they found several guns, ammunition, homemade silencers, a blackjack, three sets of handcuffs, a bulletproof vest, a Taser, ammunition, police scanners and brass knuckles at Gentile’s home as well as $22,000 at the bottom of a grandfather clock.
Gentile has not been charged in the art heist.
Prosecutors say Gentile is a member of a Philadelphia crime family. His lawyer denies the mob allegation.”
Text from Associated Press
Gardner Museum Heist $5 Million Reward if Found
This Video was from the Nighline interview from Autumn of 2004. It is a rare interview of the circumstances involving the Art Heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Part 2 is here.
STOLEN – Trailer
Is it still a masterpiece if no one can find it?
a documentary by Rebecca Dreyfus
In March of 1990, two thieves dressed as Boston police officers gained entrance to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston Massachusetts and successfully executed the largest art heist in modern history. Among the thirteen priceless works stolen was Vermeer’s “The Concert” one of only 35 of the masters surviving works. “The Concert” is thought to be the world’s most valuable stolen painting.
STOLEN is a thorough exploration of the Gardner theft, and a stirring glimpse into the worlds of art and crime which were brought together on that fateful night in 1990.
There is another film on the case called Anatomy of a heist, but we can’t embed the trailer here.