an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Free the Gardner 13: FBI Renews Push to Recover Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Purloined Paintings

Wanted: Vermeer, "The Concert," 1658–1660  Isabella's first major acquisition

Wanted: Vermeer, “The Concert,” 1658–1660
Isabella Stewart Gardner’s first major acquisition

The FBI today issued this press release and a video, below, in an effort to reenergize the 23-year-old quest to recover the works stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. They hope that reminding people of what the paintings look like (in part, via the slideshow below), as well as re-publicizing the $5-million reward for “information that leads directly to the recovery” of the stolen works “in good condition,” may very belatedly help solve the case.

The above-linked press release reveals for the first time that “the FBI believes it has determined where the stolen art was transported in the years after the theft and that it knows the identity of the thieves.”

Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office, stated:

The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence that in the years after the theft, the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region, and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia, where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft. With that same confidence, we have identified the thieves [not named in the press release, nor at today’s news conference], who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the Mid-Atlantic states and New England.

The above video states that “the statute of limitations for the theft has expired.” U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz reemphasized:

As we have said in the past, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will consider the possibility of immunity from criminal prosecution for information that leads to the return of the paintings based on the set of facts and circumstances brought to our attention. Our primary goal is, and always has been, to have the paintings returned.

Boston Globe reporter Milton Valencia‘s Twitter feed from the news conference suggests that the hunt may be moving to Philadelphia.

Got a tip? Here’s where to call: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). Or you can go to this website: The press release also suggests a third option: You can “contact…the museum directly or through a third party.” I’m reasonably certain that director Anne Hawley will drop everything to take the call.

Now if only the FBI would quickly revise its press release to spell Isabella’s maiden name right!


an ArtsJournal blog