FBI Agent: Gardner Museum Heist Is the ‘Antithesis of the Perfect Crime’

CBS News Sunday Morning ran a special segment on the 1990 theft and ongoing investigation.

gardner museum heist cbs sunday morning

‘The Concert’ by Vermeer. / Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The 1990 heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum remains a source of fascination both in Boston and the world over—and likely will up until the very point that all 13 artworks stolen that night in March are returned.

Over the weekend, CBS News Sunday Morning aired a double-segment special that retraced the history of the 25-year-old crime, from March 18, 1990, when a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers looted the museum, to earlier this year, when the FBI released never-before-seen surveillance footage of an unauthorized visitor entering the Gardner the night before the heist.

In the segment, Erin Moriarty of 48 Hours talks at length with the museum’s departing director Anne Hawley, current security chief Anthony Amore, and FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly, who’s been in charge of the task force searching for the stolen art since 2002.

After going through all the clues collected over the years, which have yielded no end results, Moriarty asks Kelly if the heist’s perpetrators have committed the perfect crime.

“No,” Kelly tells her. “This was the antithesis of the perfect crime.”

“It’s still gone,” says Moriarty, referring to the art, which includes rare works by Rembrandt and Vermeer.

“Nobody got any money off these paintings,” explains Kelly. “The perfect crime means you got away with it and you profit from the crime. And I don’t believe that anybody has profited at all from this crime.”

Other subjects interviewed by Moriarty include Tom Mashberg, the Boston Herald investigative reporter who was certain that he had seen the stolen Rembrandt seascape inside a Brooklyn warehouse in 1997, and Ryan McGuigan, lawyer for Robert Gentile, a Hartford mobster that investigators believe can lead them to the art.

William Youngworth, the antiques dealer with a criminal past that had shown the alleged Rembrandt to Mashberg, and Richard Abath, the then-23-year-old security guard who had let the thieves into the museum and the only person who was present in the Blue Room, from which one work was stolen, during the night of the heist.

In the CBS segment, Abath is seen waving Moriarty off from a second-story porch when she attempts to pay a visit to his house in Vermont.

The full special, which the Gardner Museum has been promoting on social media, with the “hope that continued exposure and visibility of the art will help the investigation and return the works,” can be seen here.

The FBI continues to offer a $5 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the stolen art.