The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft

By Ulrich Boser

Shortly after nighttime on March 18, 1990, males broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and dedicated the most important paintings heist in background. They stole a dozen masterpieces, together with one Vermeer, 3 Rembrandts, and 5 Degas. yet after hundreds of thousands of leads—and a $5 million reward—none of the work were recovered. worthy up to $500 million, the lacking masterpieces became one of many nation's so much notable unsolved mysteries.

After the loss of life of famed paintings detective Harold Smith, reporter Ulrich Boser made up our minds to soak up the case. Exploring Smith's unfinished leads, Boser travels deep into the paintings underworld and springs throughout a awesome forged of characters, together with an excellent rock 'n' roll thief, a gangster who professes his innocence in rhyming verse, and the enigmatic overdue Boston heiress Isabella Stewart Gardner herself. Boser turns into more and more enthusiastic about the case and finally uncovers startling new proof concerning the identities of the thieves. A story of paintings and greed, of obsession and loss, The Gardner Heist is as compelling because the stolen masterpieces themselves.

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Even a few funding banks have got into the enterprise, paying for Pollocks low and promoting them excessive. “We examine million-dollar offers a week and infrequently purchase $1 million to $2 million of artwork a week,” Rhea 068 Th e G a r d n e r H e i s t Papanicolaou of the London advantageous paintings Fund informed me. Her fund confirmed a standard of forty seven percentage go back on revenues, she stated. “If you will have a good staff of specialists, are sitting on loads of money, and are ready to carry artwork over a ten-year interval, you may make sizeable gains. ” The envisioned worthy of the stolen Gardner work have proven an identical meteoric upward thrust because the remainder of the industry. whilst Gardner bought the Vermeer in 1892, she paid 29,000 French francs, or approximately $6,000. many years later, Gardner’s good friend Ralph Curtis wrote her from the Hague, “[Hofstede de Groote] says your live performance is now worthy simply among hundred and fifty and 200 thousand. inform [your husband]—he can’t invest like that during country road! ” The shaggy dog story remained actual for far of the following century—and there turns out doubtless that the thieves knew that the Gardner works have been hugely priceless commodities. Six months earlier than the robbery, Christie’s offered Manet’s The Rue Mosnier with Flags for $26. four million. the associated fee greater than doubled the list for a piece via the artist, and the sale made headlines around the nation. The public sale list for a Rembrandt portray used to be set only a yr sooner than the theft whilst Portrait of a Bearded guy in a crimson Coat offered for roughly $10 million. And after the heist, a few blamed the museum break-in squarely out there itself. “The [Gardner] robbery is the blue-collar part of the glittering method wherein paintings, in the course of the ’80s, was once promoted into crass totems of extra capital,” wrote critic Robert Hughes. “If one sought after an ideal instance of ways the crazed paintings marketplace has come to paintings opposed to American museums and their public, what occurred in Boston final week will be it. ” regardless of the case, the paintings marketplace keeps to skyrocket—and the notional worth of the stolen Gardner paintings climbs in addition to it. whilst the FBI first introduced the caper, they expected the loss at $200 million; 8 years later, the Boston bring in positioned the fee at over $400 million, with the Vermeer at $238 million, The hurricane at $140 million, and the remainder of the works within the many hundreds of thousands. In 2000 FBI agent Thomas Cassano gave a conversation in regards to the Gardner robbery on the overseas origin for paintings study in long island urban, and whilst he priced the full price of the loss at $500 million, the viewers all started hooting and cheering, “More! extra! ” at the present time, a number of purchasers say the stolen Gardner paint- Cor t ege au x En v i rons de Fl or ence - sixty nine ings will be worthy up to $600 million. “In this loopy artwork marketplace, all you wish is one monstrous spender. If these work received back, all you will need is a invoice Gates or a Geffen to abruptly get entangled, and also you may see the Vermeer on my own going for as a lot $300 million,” paintings broker Alex Boyle advised me. whilst crooks listen the costs commanded by way of most sensible work and sculptures—and discover how poorly secured they are—art robbery turns into a given.

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