The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft
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Shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and committed the largest art heist in history. They stole a dozen masterpieces, including one Vermeer, three Rembrandts, and five Degas. But after thousands of leads—and a $5 million reward—none of the paintings have been recovered. Worth as much as $500 million, the missing masterpieces have become one of the nation's most extraordinary unsolved mysteries.
After the death of famed art detective Harold Smith, reporter Ulrich Boser decided to take up the case. Exploring Smith's unfinished leads, Boser travels deep into the art underworld and comes across a remarkable cast of characters, including a brilliant rock 'n' roll thief, a gangster who professes his innocence in rhyming verse, and the enigmatic late Boston heiress Isabella Stewart Gardner herself. Boser becomes increasingly obsessed with the case and eventually uncovers startling new evidence about the identities of the thieves. A tale of art and greed, of obsession and loss, The Gardner Heist is as compelling as the stolen masterpieces themselves.
no man alive that knows the whereabouts of the artworks. . . . A man who masterminded the theft . . . was led to an untimely death,” read one note. “We pray for you.” No matter what the message, Smith would ask his secretary to transcribe it for his files. If the call seemed promising, he would phone the person and ask for more details. What was on the back of the paintings? Did you see any dealer’s stickers? Unusual markings? Smith used the particulars as a litmus test to separate the worthwhile
letter read. “You will be given $10,000 cash, and you will be allowed to leave.” But the art never showed up. Merlino never gave a reason. It will Ku - 107 happen when it happens, he told Chicofsky. That might have been the end of the saga—until Merlino and Turner were arrested trying to raid the Loomis armored car depot. Cronin made sure to be there early that Sunday morning. The agent believed that Turner might flip and give up the Gardner paintings in order to get out of the armed robbery
opinion. Someone else had The Concert. The key to the whole thing might be the top of the flagpole. I was close to it a few years ago, and everyone got spooked. But really nobody knows where that stuff is, except the people who eventually ended up with it.” Leppo checked his watch, stood up, and said that he had to go to a meeting. He promised that he would do his best to organize an interview with Connor. “Remember,” he quipped. “I’m not interested in the $5 million. I would make the museum pay
country house of a high-valued stolen art fence and drug dealer. At the meeting, there was Slab Murphy, Whitey Bulger, and my man, who I can’t name. There were negotiations about how to give the pictures back, but the problem was law enforcement. They didn’t want it to happen. They wouldn’t take yes for an answer. They didn’t want the monies to be paid. Everyone was afraid of what would happen if a reward was paid to criminals.” “So who has the paintings now?” Turbo didn’t know for sure. “And if
NOT a tough guy. He didn’t carry a gun or threaten vio- lence. No one could remember a time when he raised his voice at a 022 Th e G a r d n e r H e i s t suspect. His disposition was fundamentally trusting. He was the type of person who would pick up hitchhikers on rural roads and then drive an extra ten miles to make sure that they arrived safely at their destination. But in his investigative work, Smith had some advantages over law enforcement. His firm, Smith International Adjusters