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Stolen Art: World's Largest Art Crime

On March 18, 2013 the FBI, along with Boston's Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum and the U.S. Attorney's Office, renewed their efforts to recover thirteen major works of art stolen from the Museum twenty-three years earlier.

Stolen Art 5 million reward

At a press conference on the 23rd anniversary of the theft, officials hoped to apply pressure and focus attention via mass media, billboards, the Internet and print by offering a five million dollar reward for the safe return of the art.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Great Day For A Robbery
As Boston citizens were celebrating St. Patrick's Day, two men posing as Boston Police Officers approached the Museum, telling the guard they were responding to a disturbance call on Museum property. A newly hired security guard made a critical error, broke protocol, and buzzed the thieves into the Museum. During the so called 'search of the premises,' one of the "officers" called the door guard away from his post at the alarm, claiming to have a defunct warrant for his arrest. The guard then broke yet another protocol, leaving his post to respond to the officer. He was then instructed to summon a second patrolling guard and both men were handcuffed to a pipe, their mouths duck taped and feet bound.

An easy entry, broken protocol, knowledge of which items to take and their location, PAYOFF? The FBI thinks so.

In just 81 minutes the thieves walked away with thirteen pieces of art including: three Rembrandts, five Degas, a Vermeer, a Flinck, a Manet, a Chinese Shang Dynasty bronze beaker and a Napoleonic finial.

A "Who Done It"
Whoever composed the list of what to steal had done his homework. Included in the stolen works was "The Storm of the Sea of Galilee," Rembrandt's only known water themed oil painting.

THE CONCERT (Het concert) c. 1663-1666, oil on canvass Isabella Gardner Museum, Boston (stolen)
THE CONCERT (Het concert) c. 1663-1666, oil on canvass Isabella Gardner Museum, Boston (stolen)

The most valuable piece stolen was Vermeer's "The Concert," one of only 32 known paintings by Vermeer, and valued at more than two hundred million dollars! Through tips, and the fact that some of the works were unsuccessfully offered for sale in Philadelphia, the FBI believes it knows who is behind the theft but does not want to reveal the suspects' names.

The statute of limitations has passed for prosecution of the theft itself. The U.S. Attorney General's Office has stated it will not prosecute anyone who is in possession of the pieces if they are returned in good condition. Take another look at the billboard. Write down the telephone number and possibly make yourself $5,000,000.00!!

You can view the stolen items online at:




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