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Label: heist

Wednesday 12th August 2015Boston's Biggest Unsolved Art Heist

As any avid mystery fan knows, a 'cold case' is a term used by law enforcement agencies to describe a criminal case that was never solved, and has since gone 'cold'. There are no new leads to follow, and the entire investigation has hit a dead end, languishing in a file drawer (or hard drive) somewhere, waiting for something new to turn up. You probably don't need to be a detective to realize that very few of these cold cases are ever solved, and they get colder the longer they sit around. Except every once in a while, there is a lucky break, and suddenly the investigation is thrown wide open again - just ask the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The Gardner is a beautiful old museum, preserved exactly the way its namesake designed and arranged it, as stipulated in her will. Unfortunately, it is also the site of perhaps the most famous and high-valued art heist in the last 100 years, as in 1990, thieves absconded with an estimated $500 million USD worth of art. Thanks to Gardner's will, the museum now has 13 empty frames hanging on the walls which they are forbidden from moving, which used to house several paintings by Rembrandt, Manet, Degas and Vermeer. In an admittedly appealing attempt to turn this black eye into a method to keep the theft in the public eye, the museum generated a 3D walkthrough for the 25th "anniversary", available to guests that showcases the missing paintings as they were when Gardner herself curated the collection.

As it turns out, however, the Federal Bureau of Investigation hasn't yet given up the trail of the thieves, and the case has suddenly gone from stone cold to warm in a matter of weeks. While the thieves stole the surveillance video of the night of the crime itself, the FBI recently released some video from the days preceding the theft, which appears to show the thieves doing a dry run of the heist. This is the first time the public has seen the footage, and almost immediately a lawyer stepped forward representing an anonymous client who claims to be able to identify one of the men in the video.

While there has been a neverending stream of public discourse on the matter, including various articles, books, and documentaries about the crime, this is the first time in 25 years that a real lead has developed. It may turn out to be nothing, but it goes to show that even after all this time, there is still the chance of returning these masterworks to the safe arms of the Gardner Museum.
 

Posted on August 12th 2015 on 03:14pm
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