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Post Info TOPIC: The Gardner Heist: Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft

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

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 leadsand a $5 million rewardnone 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.

On the night of St. Patricks Day, two police officers entered Bostons Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They were responding to a call, they said, and so, the security guard let them in. Minutes later, both guards on duty that evening were handcuffed, brought to the museums basement, tied to pipes, and immobilized.

By the time their morning relief came, 13 paintings, valued at approximately $300 million, had been cut from their frames: several Rembrandts; Degas; a Manet; a Vermeer. The policemen had been thieves in disguise. The guard had broken protocol to allow them entrance in the first place. The entire crime took 81 minutes. None of the art has ever been recovered and, despite an apparent break in 2008, 22 years after the heist not a single person has been charged. 13 frames hang empty, as a reminder of the loss.

After 20 yearsand thousands of leadsinvestigators might finally be on the brink of solving the largest art theft in history.

The wee hours of March 18, 1990, were good ones for a robbery. Most of Boston was still out celebrating Saint Patricks Day with boozy cheer. A light rain had fallen earlier in the day. The streets of the Fenway were wet and slick. Shortly after midnight, two thieves dressed as police officers approached the Palace Road side entrance of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The institution is one of New Englands most beautifully romantic spots, a treasure palace brimming with masterpieces by Botticelli, Velázquez and Rubens. Through an intercom, the thieves told the night guards they were investigating a disturbance. The fake cops were buzzed into the building, and they quickly thrust the security guards against a wall.

This is a robbery, one of the thieves said. Dont give us any problems, and you wont get hurt. Dont worry, a guard muttered, they dont pay me enough to get hurt. The crooks wrapped strip after strip of duct tape around the eyes and mouths of the guards, swaddling their heads until they looked like mummies.



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