On March 18, 1990, a multi-million dollar art theft was committed in Boston and today, almost 30 years later, at a $500 million value, it remains the biggest unsolved art heist in history.
Thirteen paintings by the likes of Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn to name a few were stolen in plain sight from the city’s Isabella Stewart Gardner museum on that fateful date.
The two thieves, who arrived at the museum just after midnight dressed as policemen, managed to convince the security guards to let them through. Once inside, they restrained the guards and made off with the works just about an hour and twenty minutes later.
There have been multiple suspects thought to have committed the crime over the years, ranging from the Italian mafia to the Irish Republican Army, and although the FBI claimed in 2013 that it had identified the duo responsible, their names were never released as the Bureau stated they had already died. Thus the air of mystery to this crime continues,with speculations constantly circulating throughout the art world as to who really did it.
That said, the main concern of the museum and art lovers worldwide is of course to recover the priceless works, which remain at large. This is which is why the institution has decided to extend the $10,000,000 reward on offer, which was meant to reduce to $5,000,000 at the end of 2017.
According to the New York Times, the museum’s head of security, Anthony Amore, hopes that the high reward will help track down the paintings so they can be put back in front of the public where they belong.
In the meantime, the frames that once held the treasured canvases hang empty on the walls because Mrs. Gardner, for whom the museum takes its name, stipulated in her will that her art collection remain on display in the house just exactly as she left it when she died. We can’t imagine what she’d think now if she knew what had happened.