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FBI Finally ID’s Thieves in Half-Billion-Dollar Museum Heist: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Gardner Museum

A few of the empty frames still being displayed at Boston’s Gardner Museum. Photo courtesy of AP.

The FBI has finally discovered the identities of the thieves who participated in the infamous art theft of Boston’s Isabella Steward Gardner Museum. This 1990 heist still holds the title of being the greatest heists in American history. Here’s what you should know about this heist, the FBI’s developing case, and which pieces of art were stolen.


1. The FBI Has Identified the Thieves (But Won’t Say Who They Are)
FBI Gardner Museum
Back in 1990, a pair of robbers posing as Boston police officers entered Boston’s Gardner Museum. After entering the museum, they proceeded to tie up two evening security guards. During the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, the thieves made off with 13 separate pieces of valuable art pieces by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Edgar Degas, and Edouard Manet. Today, FBI officials revealed that they now know the identities of the thieves who stole all these art pieces on that fateful morning. However, they won’t make the identities public. Richard DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the Boston office of the FBI, gave a statement on the FBI’s discovery to Boston.com:

The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence 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. With that confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England.


2. $500 Million Worth of Art Was Stolen
Gardner Museum Theft

‘Chez Tortoni,’ painted by Manet.

Gardner Museum Theft

Degas’ art piece, ‘La Sortie du Pelage.’


Some $500 million worth of art was stolen in the epic heist. Some of the pieces stolen include Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” Manet’s “Chez Tortoni,” Degas’ “La Sortie du Pelage, and Vermeer’s “The Concert.”


3. The FBI Doesn’t Know Where the Thieves Are
Even though FBI agents know who stole the paintings, they still don’t know where these thieves are hiding. And Boston.com attended a news conference that featured US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, who said that the statute of limitations had run out for the robbers.


4. There’s a $5 Million Reward
FBI Gardner Museum
The FBI posted a notice on its official website offering $5 million to anyone who can lead the bureau to nabbing these art thieves. A press release on the website states the contacts people can reach out to:

The FBI stressed that anyone with information about the artwork may contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) 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 Art Crime Team. “In the past, people who realize they are in possession of stolen art have returned the art in a variety of ways, including through third parties, attorneys, and anonymously leaving items in churches or at police stations.” Tips may also be submitted online at https://tips.fbi.gov.


5. The FBI Posted a Handy Video Description of the Case on YouTube

An official synopsis video about this mystery was posted by the FBI on YouTube, which can be seen above.

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