Jan Vermeer, The Concert, c. 1664, oil on canvas, 28½” x 25½”, stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Art Heist No Longer is a Cold Case
On March 18th 1990, as Bostonians were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, two thieves posing as police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, saying they were responding to a call. The guard on duty allowed the thieves into the museum. Once inside, the thieves told the guard he was under arrest and they asked him to summon the other guard. After handcuffing both guards and tying them up in the basement, the thieves drove away with thirteen masterpieces, worth an estimated $500 million. Among the works of art the thieves stole were Jan Vermeer’s The Concert, Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Chez Tortoni by Édouard Manet, several drawings by Edgar Degas, an ancient Chinese vessel, and a finial from the Napoleonic era.
The museum heist holds a special honor as the largest property theft in history.
Yesterday, almost 23 years later to the date, the FBI announced it has identified the thieves who stole the incredibly valuable masterpieces and are hopeful that they will retrieve the works of art. One wonders if a civilian offered information that might lead to the recovery of the artwork and if he or she will receive the $5 million reward offered by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.