Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: 29 years after infamous art heist

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: 29 years after infamous art heist

BOSTON — Monday marks the 29th anniversary of the night two men disguised as Boston Police officers stole $500 million worth of artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The biggest art heist in history happened in the waning hours of St. Patrick's Day in 1990 when two young security guards were tricked into opening the door to two thieves who plundered the century-old museum for more than an hour.

They stole 13 pieces of art, including Vermeer's "The Concert," Edgar Degas' "Leaving the Paddock," and Rembrandt's "Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee" and "A Lady and a Gentleman in Black."

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The art has never been recovered.

Twenty-nine years later, the empty frames still hang from the walls of the Dutch Room.

Gardner Museum Security Chief Anthony Amore told Boston 25 News' Bob Ward that he's confident the art will be recovered.

"I don't care, frankly, who took the art. I don't even care who has it. I just want it back," he said. "Our mission is to put the art back into the empty frames to put our objects back where they belong."

>> New England's Unsolved Podcast: The Gardner Museum Heist

Aging Connecticut mobster Robert Gentile is a key figure in the investigation. He was just released from a four-year federal prison sentence in an unrelated weapons case. Some call him the last living link to the stolen art, but Amore says that's simply not true.

"Mr. Gentile has been to prison, he's been released. The investigation goes on. We're not sitting around hoping he tells us what he may or may not know," said Amore.

The museum may be best known for the heist, but it is refusing to let the art heist define it.

There is a huge, modern addition to the Gardner; a music program, and an artist-in-residence program to help build on the museum's mission.

"You don't leave here thinking about loss. You come to the Gardner you think of the vibrancy of this collection."

The museum is offering a $10 million reward in the case.