Mobster May Be Key to Finding $500M in Stolen Art. He's Not Talking

To be released from prison, Robert Gentile still 'has no idea where the paintings are'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2019 5:49 PM CDT
Ailing Mobster Linked to $500M Art Heist to Leave Prison
Federal authorities search the Manchester, Conn., home of reputed mobster Robert Gentile on May 2, 2016.   (Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant via AP)

When FBI agents searched Robert Gentile's Connecticut home in 2016, the aging mobster was adamant that they were barking up the wrong tree. "They ain't gonna find nothing," he said through his lawyer, as he was serving a 54-month prison sentence for drug and gun charges. That sentence wraps Sunday, meaning that a day before the 29th anniversary of the $500 million art heist at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the 82-year-old man suspected of holding the key to finding the lost art will walk out of the federal prison at Fort Dix, NJ, per the Hartford Courant. Don't expect a big reveal, though. "It has been the same story for the past 10 years. He has no idea where the paintings are," attorney Ryan McGuigan tells Boston 25. Still-missing works include Vermeer's "The Concert" and Rembrandt's "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee."

Gentile—who's in "fragile" health and uses a wheelchair, per the Courant—previously said he would've long ago divulged anything he knew about the March 18, 1990 heist to collect a $10 million reward. Regardless, police have kept on his tail, citing a list of the stolen paintings and possible black market prices for those pieces that was found at his property in 2012. They don't believe he stole the works—the two men suspected in that role died years ago—but perhaps helped move them to Philadelphia ahead of a potential sale in 2000. The widow of Boston gangster Robert Guarente said her husband gave Gentile two of the paintings around that time. Guarente is believed to have obtained them from the thieves. The 1990 crime was the world's richest art heist, notes the Courant, and authorities believe Gentile may be the last person alive with knowledge of the art's whereabouts. (A podcast from WBUR and the Boston Globe goes into greater detail.)

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