Tips Rolling In to FBI Over Gardner Museum Heist
With a $5 million reward on the line for the recovery of the missing art, the public has begun calling in to help the FBI's ongoing investigation.
After the FBI's announcement on Monday that they know who lifted $500 million worth of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 23 years ago, tips on the whereabouts of the missing art have begun to pour in to the FBI's Boston office.
The FBI said they would not release the number of tips, but Chief Division Counsel Damon Katz told the Boston Herald on Monday that tips have indeed come in, and the FBI is already at work analyzing them.
“The numbers are in line with what we would expect,” Katz told the Herald. “We didn’t have a target number of tips. Our target is just to get that art back on the walls of the museum.”
Besides a general interest in returning the art to its rightful place, there's a $5 million reward on the line offered by the museum, and potential immunity from criminal prosecution offered by the FBI.
On March 18, 1990, men posing as Boston police officers stole thirteen works of art from the museum. The missing art, including works by Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Govaert Flinck, Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet, has not been seen since.
FBI officials said a tip called in in 2010 lead to a big break in the case, and helped them determine the suspect's identities, 23 years after the heist. Through following leads based on that tip, FBI detectives said they believe the artwork was transported to Philadelphia, and then to Connecticut and that a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England was responsible. However, since the original crime was committed so many years ago, the statute of limitations on the act of theft itself has expired.
Now, the FBI said, the main focus is on finding the art, wherever it may be. And that's where they need the public's help, they said.
“It’s likely over the years that someone – a friend, neighbor or relative – has seen the art hanging on a wall, placed above a mantel or stored in an attic. We want that person to call us,” said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office.