• 24 Jan 2018

The Isabella Gardner Museum of Boston continues its efforts to find its 13 stolen Artworks which worth over half a billion dollars. To that end, even though the initial 10 million dollars reward dropped to 5, the offer remains. The clock is ticking and as time goes on, where does the investigation stand at?

This image from the FBI shows an empty frame which is all that remains from Rembrandt's "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee" formerly part of the Isablla Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

An empty frame remains where Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” used to be © FBI

The most important Art heist in the world

It is still an open wound for Bostonians. On March 18th, 1990, 13 Artworks by great master painters were stolen from the Isabella Gardner Museum. The two thieves who were disguised as police men stole the precious artifacts. Among them was “The Storm on the Galilée Sea” by Rambrandt, but also “the Concert” by Vermeer. However, there are not the only one-of-a-kind Artists who saw their Artworks robbed from them. Indeed, Edgar Degas also was part of the cursed crew. In fact, the total amount of stolen Artworks worth 500 million dollars. It is Mr Armore, head of the museum security who has been leading the investigation for 30 years. Initially, the museum proposed a 10 million dollars reward. However, the offer expired on January 1st, 2018. As a result, the award went down to 5 million dollars.

This is a painting of Johannes Vermeer entitled "The Concert" which has been stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The Concert © Johannes Vermeer

The award drop’s consequences

Going from a 10 million to a 5 million dollars award did not go without generating worrisome among investigators. Indeed, M. Armore recently stated to the New York Times: “It’s conceivable that some criminal organization or people might be wishy-washy about the 5 million dollars (…). “But it’s not conceivable that they’re feeling the same way about the 10 million dollars.” Nonetheless, even though the investigators did figure the whereabouts of the two individuals within the museum through the movement detectors, there is a lack of clues. It is even more frustrating considering that the two criminals apparently stayed eighty on minutes on site. The goal is to retrieve the Artworks rather than punishing the thieves.

A burning case coming to a dead end

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s stolen Artworks case did not go without ups and downs. Effectively, in 2013, the FBI announced they’d identified the thieves. However, there has been prescription since 1995, the suspects couldn’t be arrested nor brought to justice. In fact, the two suspects did not have the Artworks in their possession. According to Kristen Setera from the FBI: “the investigation has been very eventful and twisted with both promising leads and dead ends.” Even though there were many leads, many of them were farfetched. As a result, investigators thought it could have been the mafia, highly skilled thieves, or emissaries from the Vatican. Despite everything that has been going on, the museum still hopes it will be able to retrieve the Artworks and the award, even brought down, remains.

This is a picture of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum's patio in Boston.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston


Read our article about the new gigantic New Yorker Gallery by Art-dealer David Zwirner here.

Sources : The New York Times & Le Monde.