FBI Thinks It Cracked 23-Year-Old Art Heist Mystery

Agents believe they know IDs of thieves behind $500M crime

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Mar 18, 2013 4:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – The FBI believes it knows the identities of the thieves who stole art valued at up to $500 million from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum more than two decades ago. Richard DesLauriers, the FBI's special agent in charge in Boston, says the thieves belong to a criminal organization based in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. He says authorities believe the art was taken to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region in the years after the theft, and offered for sale in Philadelphia about a decade ago.

The FBI has a new website aimed at getting help cracking the case. In a video, DesLauriers says the statute of limitations has passed for the crime of art theft and authorities are focused on recovering the art. He calls the heist one of the largest art thefts in US history. The theft happened when two people posing as police officers fooled security guards into believing they were there for a legitimate reason before locking the guards in the museum's basement and making off with the stolen objects. Among the art stolen was Vermeer's "The Concert," two Rembrandt oil paintings, and a number of Degas sketches. (Could Whitey Bulger have had anything to do with today's revelation? Click here.)

In this March 21, 1990 file photo, a security guard stands outside the Dutch Room of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, where robbers stole more than a dozen works of art.
In this March 21, 1990 file photo, a security guard stands outside the Dutch Room of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, where robbers stole more than a dozen works of art.   (Anonymous)
This file photograph shows the etching Self-Portrait, by Rembrandt, one of more than a dozen works of art stolen by burglars in the early hours of March 18, 1990.
This file photograph shows the etching "Self-Portrait," by Rembrandt, one of more than a dozen works of art stolen by burglars in the early hours of March 18, 1990.   (Anonymous)
This undated file photograph shows the painting The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, by Rembrandt, one of more than a dozen works of art stolen by burglars in the early hours of March 18, 1990.
This undated file photograph shows the painting "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee," by Rembrandt, one of more than a dozen works of art stolen by burglars in the early hours of March 18, 1990.   (Anonymous)
This file photograph released by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum shows the painting Chez Tortoni, by Manet, one of more than a dozen works of art stolen in the early hours of March 18, 1990.
This file photograph released by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum shows the painting "Chez Tortoni," by Manet, one of more than a dozen works of art stolen in the early hours of March 18, 1990.   (Anonymous)
In this Thursday, March 11, 2010 file photo, empty frames from which thieves took paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
In this Thursday, March 11, 2010 file photo, empty frames from which thieves took paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.   (Josh Reynolds)
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