FBI Digs for Stolen Art at Aging Mobster's Home

Robert Gentile linked to infamous 1990 heist in Boston
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2016 12:04 PM CDT
FBI Digs for Stolen Art at Aging Mobster's Home
Federal authorities search the home of reputed mobster Robert Gentile.   (Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant via AP)

Authorities aren't giving up the search for $500 million in paintings stolen in one of the largest art thefts in US history. On Monday, the FBI searched the property of an 80-year-old mobster linked to the 1990 theft of 13 paintings—including three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, and a Manet—from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, reports the Boston Globe. A lawyer for Robert Gentile says agents searched in and around his home in Manchester, Conn., using metal detectors and dogs. At one point, they were seen digging within 10 feet of the house after removing siding and a vent pipe reportedly leading to an underground oil tank, per the Hartford Courant. But "they ain't gonna find nothing," Gentile told his lawyer, adding he didn't steal the paintings, isn't hiding them, and has no idea where they are.

Two previous searches of the property turned up nothing, though federal prosecutors say Gentile offered to sell two of the stolen paintings to an undercover FBI agent for $500,000 each in 2015, reports NBC Connecticut. He also offered to return the paintings in exchange for a lesser sentence for a friend and told at least three people that he had access to the art, prosecutors say. Agents don't believe Gentile actually took part in the theft—those two men are dead, according to the FBI—but the wife of a suspect told police that her husband gave Gentile two paintings before his death in 2004. Gentile is now serving a 2.5-year prison sentence for drug and gun charges after an arrest last year, per ABC News. The Gardner Museum, meanwhile, is offering $5 million for information leading to the recovery of the masterworks. (More art heist stories.)

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