FBI launches publicity campaign to nab notorious art thieves

More than $500 million worth of art remains missing after a two-man heist confounded authorities in 1990

Topics: FBI, art heist, Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Vermeer, degas, manet, Rembrandt,

FBI launches publicity campaign to nab notorious art thievesRembrandt's "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee," one of the stolen artworks (Credit: Wikimedia)

The FBI claims to have identified the two people who in 1990 perpetrated what the New York Times refers to as the “one of the most brazen art thefts in history.” On March 18, 1990, two thieves walked out of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum with $500 million in art, including works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Manet and Degas, in what remains “the largest property crime in American history.” To date, authorities have not found any of the artworks or made any arrests connected to the crime.

Twenty-three years later — to the day — investigators say they’ve identified the perpetrators. However, FBI special agent Richard DesLauriers announced yesterday that the FBI is now seeking help from the public, hoping to glean information on the whereabouts of the artwork. From the Times:



“The F.B.I. intends to put up billboards with the paintings in Connecticut and Philadelphia. And they have redesigned a page at the agency’s Web site at www.FBI.gov/gardner, creating the jarring image of stunning art works in a spot normally reserved for the mugs of the nation’s most wanted criminals.

‘We’ve determined in the years after the theft that the art was transported to the Connecticut and Philadelphia regions,’ Mr. DesLauriers said. ‘But we haven’t identified where the art is right now, and that’s why we are asking the public for help.’ The splashy announcement, somewhat unusual when the identities of the suspects are known but not revealed, was designed to draw worldwide attention, he said, beyond the confines of Boston.”

In addition, the museum is offering a $5 million reward “for information leading to the recovery of the works in good condition.”

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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