Video re­leased in Bos­ton art mu­seum heist

The China Post - - LIFE - BY DENISE LAVOIE

Twenty-five years af­ter the famed art heist at Bos­ton’s Is­abella Stewart Gard­ner Mu­seum, law en­force­ment of­fi­cials re­leased new sur­veil­lance video Thurs­day show­ing an unau­tho­rized visi­tor en­ter­ing the mu­seum the night be­fore the rob­bery.

Author­i­ties hope the never-be­fore seen video will spark leads to help re­cover the 13 pieces of stolen art­work, worth at least US$500 mil­lion.

The low-res­o­lu­tion video — cap­tured by mu­seum se­cu­rity cam­eras — shows a se­cu­rity guard ap­pear­ing to hit an in­ter­com but­ton, then to grant ac­cess to a man who can be seen in the mu­seum’s re­cep­tion area at about 12:49 a.m. on March 17, 1990, al­most ex­actly 24 hours be­fore the heist.

The man is also seen get­ting out of a car match­ing the gen­eral de­scrip­tion of one re­ported to be parked out­side the mu­seum min­utes be­fore the theft. He uses the same rear en­trance as the thieves, ac­cord­ing to the of­fice of U.S. At­tor­ney Car­men Or­tiz, which re­leased the video.

The stolen art­work in­cludes Ver­meer’s “The Con­cert” and Rem­brandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.”

“Over many months we have en­gaged in an ex­haus­tive re-ex­am­i­na­tion of the orig­i­nal ev­i­dence in this case. Our aim has been to en­sure that all av­enues have been ex­plored in the con­tin­u­ing quest to re­cover these art­works,” Or­tiz said in a pre­pared state­ment.

Or­tiz said of­fi­cials are hop­ing the public may be able to help author­i­ties iden­tify the unau­tho­rized visi­tor or the car seen in the video.

“I’m very hope­ful that it will gen­er­ate in­for­ma­tion that can lead us back to our paint­ings,” said Antho- ny Amore, the mu­seum’s di­rec­tor of se­cu­rity.

The sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances

of what’s shown on the video and what hap­pened the night of the rob­bery — in­clud­ing the man en­ter­ing through the same rear door as the thieves — have raised ques­tions about whether the man was prac­tic­ing for the ac­tual rob­bery.

Or­tiz said in an in­ter­view that the the­ory of a dry run for the rob­bery “makes sense,” but is only spec­u­la­tion at this point.

“The spec­u­la­tion is with rea­son, but we don’t have any spe­cific in­for­ma­tion that that’s what hap­pened,” she said.

A US$5 mil­lion re­ward has been of­fered by the mu­seum for in­for­ma­tion that leads to the re­cov­ery of the stolen art­work in good con­di­tion.

Author­i­ties have re­peat­edly said that on March 18, 1990, two white men dressed in Bos­ton po­lice uni­forms gained en­trance to the mu­seum by telling the se­cu­rity guard at the watch desk that they were re­spond­ing to a re­port of a dis­tur­bance.

Against mu­seum pol­icy, the guard al­lowed the men into the mu­seum. The thieves hand­cuffed the mu­seum’s two guards on duty and put them in sep­a­rate ar­eas of the mu­seum’s base­ment.

No weapons were seen dur­ing the rob­bery and no panic but­ton was ac­ti­vated. The video sur­veil­lance footage from the night of the rob­bery was taken by the thieves.

No one has ever been charged in the heist.

In 2013, author­i­ties said in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve they know who the thieves were, but they would not iden­tify them.

They said the rob­bers be­longed to a crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion based in New Eng­land and the mid-At­lantic states and took the art to Con­necti­cut and the Philadelphia re­gion in the years af­ter the theft. They were of­fered for sale in Philadelphia about a decade ago and have not been seen since, the FBI said at the time.

AP

(Top) In this March 18, 1990 still im­age from sur­veil­lance video re­leased by the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, Thurs­day, Aug. 6, an unau­tho­rized visi­tor walks in­side the rear en­trance of the Is­abella Stewart Gard­ner Mu­seum in Bos­ton, Mas­sachusetts. (Above) This un­dated file pho­to­graph pro­vided by the Is­abella Stewart Gard­ner Mu­seum shows the paint­ing “Chez Tor­toni,” by Edouard Manet, one of more than a dozen works of art stolen in the early hours of March 18, 1990.

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