It was a $500 million dollar heist that has stymied investigators for more than two decades. But on March 18, some new information was revealed about the theft of 13 pieces of valuable art from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Paintings stolen included masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet.
On the 23rd anniversary of the theft, the FBI, the museum and the U.S. States Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts released new information about one of the largest property crimes in U.S. history.
The FBI is appealing to the public for help in what it has deemed one of its Top 10 Art Crimes.
The FBI believes it has determined where the stolen art was transported in the years after the theft and that it knows the identity of the thieves. "The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence that in the years after the theft, the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region, and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia, where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft," Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston office, said in a prepared statement. "With that same confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the Mid-Atlantic states and New England."
After the attempted sale, the FBI's knowledge of the art's whereabouts is limited, it said.
The statute of limitations has passed for the crime of art theft and authorities now are focused on recovering the art, to the tune of a $5 million reward. "With this announcement, we want to widen the 'aperture of awareness' of this crime to the reach the American public and others around the world," DesLauriers said in the statement. Meanwhile, it continues its search, both in and beyond the Connecticut and Philadelphia areas.
Anthony Amore, the museum's chief of security, noted in the statement that the reward is for "information that leads directly to the recovery of all of our items in good condition. You don't have to hand us the paintings to be eligible for the reward."
Anyone with information about the artwork should contact the FBI or the museum directly or through a third party, said Special Agent Geoffrey Kelly, who is the lead investigator in the case and a member of the FBI's Art Crime Team. Tips may also be submitted online at https://tips.fbi.gov.
The publicity campaign includes a dedicated FBI webpage on the Gardner Museum theft, video postings on FBI social media sites, publicity on digital billboards in Philadelphia region, and a podcast. To view and listen to these items, visit the FBI's new webpage about the theft: www.FBI.gov/gardner.