FBI’s Top 10 ART Crimes #2: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist



The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist has been labeled “The Crime of the Century,” but although the crime itself was rather remarkable, the fact that the case has gone unsolved for more than 27 years is unthinkable.

On March 18, 1990, two armed police officers knocked on the gates of the museum claiming to be responding to a disturbance call. The guards let them in thinking that there must be a mistake. Neither man had called the authorities. When they tried to explain this to the uniformed men, the guards were informed of the truth. They had given entry to two disguised art thieves. The guards were marched down to the basement at gunpoint and handcuffed to the water pipes. Their hands and feet were bound with duct tape and their mouths taped shut.

The thieves then took their time and stole thirteen pieces of art with an estimated value of over $500,000,000. These pieces included Rembrandt’s only seascape The Storm on the Sea of GalileeVermeer’s The Concertand a Chinese bronze gu from the Shang Dynasty. Other pieces were stolen, but the strangest item was a bronze finial that sat atop a Napoleonic Flag. This bronze bird has brought on many unanswered questions. If this was a professional job orchestrated by an art connoisseur then why did they steal this bird?

isabella stewart gardner museum heist

Motion censors indicated the movement of the thieves, their trips to their awaiting vehicle to load their stolen goods, and their final exit. The entire operation took an amazing 81 minutes. 27 years later the case is still unsolved and not one of the stolen pieces have been recovered.

Recently there has been a stirring in this cold case in the news. A Boston gangster named Robert Gentile has been making headlines. This aging criminal has claimed, officially, to have no knowledge of the matter. However, privately he has told people he knows where the artwork is located. FBI investigators are hot on the trail of this and has searched his home twice. I will keep you posted on leads as they are reported.

As always if you have any information on these missing pieces please call


YouTube Video about the heist.

(I do not own the rights to this video. I am merely sharing it for public use)


Photo credits:

Museum Picture: By Biruitorul – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4004123

Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Team, Public Domain, via Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) @ https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/5-million-reward-offered-for-return-of-stolen-gardner-museum-artwork


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Synova Cantrell may be known for her fedora, but she wears many hats. Synova volunteers with the Missouri Missing organization by highlighting obscure cold cases on her true crime blog to help generate tips. She firmly believes together we can give grieving families answers, hope, and support. Synova works as the Production Editor of True Crime: Case Files Magazine. http://www.truecrimecasefiles.com As SWMO’s #1 True Crime Writer, Synova authored Unorganized Crime; a biography of the ex-gangster Sidney Heard of Chicago, IL. This thrilling tale of con games, bank robbery, and mayhem has recently been endorsed by a retired FBI agent. Her best-selling series, Seriously Stupid Criminals, is a fan favorite in both paperback and e-book formats. Her latest e-book, Grim Justice tells the story of a judge and his wife retired in Palm Beach, Florida in 1955. Her first case files book, Snatched was released on New Year's Day. Fans eagerly await her newest serial killer series set to launch late 2019. Synova has a passion for helping fellow authors and knows how overwhelming it can be to get started in this business, that is why she created Synova's Simply Biz. Synova breaks down the business of writing in a simple way. If you need help with your business check out her new page www.synovaink.com/simplybiz. To follow all her adventures and read her true crime blog, log onto www.synovaink.com Connect with Synova: Twitter: https://twitter.com/synovaink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/synovacantrell Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/synovaink

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