HARTFORD, Conn. — Last Friday, Connecticut mobster Robert Gentile died in a Hartford, Connecticut hospital. Some think his death presented the last best chance to recover the precious artwork stolen from Boston’s Isabella Steward Gardner Museum.
Gardner Museum Security Chief Anthony Amore does not believe that.
“We’re not deterred, or downtrodden or delayed, because of the death of Robert Gentile,” Amore said.
Federal investigators believe Robert Gentile was likely involved with moving the stolen Gardner Museum artwork from Boston to possibly Philadelphia for sale But now Robert Gentile is dead.
“I think he took information to the grave, certainly, I just don’t know what it was. And we’ll never know now,” Amore said.
The feds believe Robert Gentile came into the picture years after the Gardner theft in 1991 in an effort to move the stolen paintings.
When the feds hit Gentile’s Connecticut house with search warrants, they didn’t find the paintings, but they did find other evidence, including a handwritten list of the stolen art with their street values. Gentile later failed a government polygraph.
“You can’t bank everything on a polygraph, of course, but when you add it to the totality to what we know, it’s an interesting fact,” Amore said.
Robert Gentile’s lawyer, Ryan McGuigan, has long championed Gentile’s case, alleging federal investigators were overreaching in their pursuit of the stolen art. But in a telephone interview, McGuigan told me he has his own questions about his client’s alleged role in the saga of the Gardner Art Heist.
“Is there any information that [Gentile] shared with you that might shed some light on who had the paintings, where they went, and who might have them now?” I asked.
“Yes, we had many conversations about the paintings over the years. We’ve had a lot of conversations. I have drawn some conclusions about what may have happened ultimately and where they went. But at this point, I’m not really willing to share that.” McGuigan said.
I asked, “Is this information the government has?”
“No, no,” McGuigan answered.
“Robert Gentile left behind a will. Is there anything in that will, that you are aware of, that might shed some light on the stolen paintings?” I asked.
“At this point, I cannot comment on that,” McGuigan said. “My law firm drafted the will for him, so I will respect the beneficiaries of the will, I can’t comment.”
“Is it possible there is something there and you need to look at it?” I pressed.
“It’s possible. I haven’t looked at it in some time,” McGuigan said.
He added later, “It could be the beginning of the last chapter.”
Anthony Amore would not comment on McGuigan’s statements. However, Amore said it is not uncommon for stolen art to be returned a generation after it is taken.
“Mr. Gentile has passed away. Maybe there is somebody out there who is less afraid to speak and will now come forward. I hope they do,” Amore said.
The Boston FBI issued a statement Thursday saying the case remains open and active for its agents. And the Bureau issued a reminder that the reward offered in this case stands at $10 million.
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