A new development in the 25 year old case of stolen masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, has come to light. CCT footage shows an unknown man casing the back entrance of the gallery, the night before 500 million dollars worth of art was stolen. There is now new hope that the heist may yet be solved. It is the largest art theft recorded in peacetime.
In 1990, thirteen important masterpieces were taken by a gang of men dressed as policemen. The missing works include: Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633), A Lady and Gentleman in Black (1633) and a Self Portrait (1634), an etching on paper; Vermeer’s The Concert (1658–1660); and Govaert Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk (1638); and a Chinese vase or Ku, all taken from the Dutch Room on the second floor. Also stolen from the second floor were five works on paper by the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas and a finial from the top of a pole support for a Napoleonic silk flag, both from the Short Gallery. Edouard Manet’s Chez Tortoni (1878–1880) was taken from the Blue Room on the first floor.
“Although a quarter century has passed since the art was stolen, we have always been determined to recover it and we remain optimistic that we will.” said Anne Hawley, the Gardner Museum’s Director. “On this anniversary, we will honor the missing artworks. They are an irreplaceable part of our cultural heritage, and we want to keep them present in the minds of the public.”
The New York Times suggests the footage raises questions about possible collusion between Richard Abath, the guard on duty, the night of the robbery. The 23-year-old guard was tied up by the gang, after tricking him into unlocking the door, after the museum had shut. The video shows Abath allowing access to one of the criminals the previous night. Could this mean that the case now has a solid lead? And why has this never been followed up.?