Gardner Museum Heist: 27th Anniversary Story: The True Story; Not the FBI’s One: 1/8

Gardner MuseumI’ve waited until close to March 17/18 to discuss this matter. I have had the new material on hand for several months. Now I can get back to this. This is the story of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist. Those who were in their early thirties at the time it happened are now in their sixties. It remains unsolved.

I have written on this subject before on more than a half-dozen times. You can see the prior articles by typing in Gardner Museum in the space on the front page of the blog next to the “Q.” Why then do I write again? It is because a package arrived at my secret Post Office Box #9 at 02574 (the West Falmouth Post Office) a short time ago which contained a narrative that explains in great detail what the author of that narrative believes was behind the theft of the museum art.

I have said from the first time I wrote about the matter that the FBI being a one trick pony when it comes to most of its investigations has been on the wrong trail. Because the FBI relies on the same old methods the mystery surrounding the heist continues.  Now the FBI is caught in a trap of its own making.

If the FBI were it to disclose how erroneous its conclusions have been it will suffer profound embarrassment. As my book “Don’t Embarrass the Family” points out the FBI can engage in and countenance all type of chicanery as long as it remains hidden behind its walls. If it comes out into the open then it looks for a scapegoat. FBI Director Hoover made embarrassing the FBI  the cardinal sin. It explains why Director Comey asked the Department of Justice to call President Trump a liar.

To avoid embarrassment in the Gardner case the FBI is forced persists down the wrong trail preferring to stumble along in the darkness than to admit being wrong. Better the case remain unsolved than face embarrassment.

The Facts Not In Dispute:

The night of March 17/18 in 1990 at least two men dressed as police officers entered the Gardner Museum located in Boston’s Fenway area. They stole valuable art work. One piece from the first floor and others from two separate rooms on the second floor.

In all 13 pieces were stolen from three different areas. 1. the blue room on the first floor a small painting, Edouard Manet’s Chez Tortoni; 2. the Short Gallery on the second floor five sketches by Edgar Degas three of which were of horse racing or horses along with an eagle ornament from on top of a flag pole of little value; and 3. the Dutch Room on the second floor: a 12th Century B.C. Chinese beaker, Rembrandt’s, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt’s, A Lady and Gentleman in Black, Rembrandt’s tiny etching, Portrait if the Artist as a Young Man, Govaert Flinck’s, Landscape with an Obelisk and the most valuable, Vermeer’s, The Concert.  The FBI has been working on the investigation since the day after the theft. The culprits have not been apprehended. The art has not been recovered.

The One Trick Pony:

I’ve often said the laziest law enforcement tool is the use of informants. I have said this based on my 20 plus years as an investigative prosecutor and almost ten years prior to that as a criminal defense lawyer. That s is the FBI’s bread and butter approach to its work which tells us a lot about it. The FBI is so addicted that it developed a program which still exists called the Top Echelon Informant program. The idea behind that program is to enter into a long-term alliance with top-level gangsters who will give the FBI information in exchange for the FBI doing something for them. That something is usually that the FBI will protect them to allow them to continue with their criminal activities even closing its eyes to murder.

When the Gardner robbery happened the FBI immediately turned to its informants, usually gangster types, to find out who was responsible. It has followed that strategy up to the present time. Like a hungry fish in a home aquarium when given food the FBI squirmed around swallowing and following the many tips it received from low-life guys looking for deals and perhaps hoping to make a claim on the five million dollar reward that has been dangling off the end of the line for years. The tips bore as much fruit as a petrified tree.


3 thoughts on “Gardner Museum Heist: 27th Anniversary Story: The True Story; Not the FBI’s One: 1/8

  1. Waiting for more, Matt. With the help of St. Patrick, I know you’ll
    get to the bottom of this.

  2. What I find very curious is, if the idea was to rely on informants, then why have only one agent assigned after just three months? Dan Falzon, a 29 year old San Francisco native, had only been in Boston 3 years. They also froze out all of the city and state people with their own informants and contacts.

    Federal agencies often get in turf wars with each other over jurisdiction, and over who is going to be the top-dog agency, but the Worcester Art Museum robbery, Lufthansa heist, and other art heist and big robberies have been multi-jurisdictional in the sense of including local agencies. They can be in charge and take the lion’s share of the credit. The Gardner Heist is the exception. Typically agencies are excluded in ongoing criminal conspiracies like drug dealing to avoid the conspirators being tipped off, but not in the case of a robbery investigation, after the fact. Maybe to set up a sting to “buy” the stolen merchandise. But then, there is no point to involve multiple jurisdictions, since that is not a labor intensive, information gathering activity like a big robbery investigation.

    The FBI’s one trick pony was therefore rendered more incapacitated than the guard in the basement with the phony duct tape job around his head, which did not keep him from seeing (he says) hearing (his right ear is uncovered) or speaking (his mouth is also uncovered) So what was the point?

    Also despite numerous reports to the contrary, the guard is not handcuffed TO anything in the crime scene photo.

    Unbelievably, an open pocket knife is plainly visible behind him in a BPD crime scene photo and also two books of matches. a large bamboo stick in another BPD photo and who knows what else. It looks like candy wrappers, and the museum candy machine was broken into that night too.

    The problem is that not only does the FBI rely too much on sources but so too do reporters who cravenly rely on access to authority figures for crumb.

    Nobody has reported that pocket knife behind the guard in the crime scene photo. Is that not news? Of course it is, but there only a pocket knife there, when the FBI says there is a pocket knife and not before.

    And if they taped his head and handcuffed him upstairs, then how did his Stetson cowboy hat wind up downstairs? Did the guard have the presence of mind to say to the robbers:

    “Hey bro, the thing is, I have tickets to the Dead Show tonight in Hartford and.. I know this sounds a little crazy, but do you think you could maybe be a pal, and bring my hat down here and put it here next to me? I’d hate like heck to have put into some evidence locker all weekend. It’s my only one.
    Thanks a million.
    But keep in mind his mouth is ineffectually not duct-taped too, so try to imagine this as him sort of half mumbling a bit too.

    There is no way that hat ended up in the basement without the robbers handling it at least twice.

    Crime/A Time Magazine Investigation
    November 17, 1997 Volume 150 # 21
    “The Great Art Caper”
    By Steve Lopez

    “Within three months, the number of agents assigned to the
    case had been drastically reduced. In fact, it went down to just
    one—Daniel Falzon, a young agent from San Francisco,” Stephen Kurkjian “Master Thieves page 93”

    Crime scene photo tweets of guard

    81 Minutes: Inside the Greatest Art Heist in History

    Guard: “My God, I have to pretend I can’t see this person, because that would definitely not be good if they realized I could see them.”

  3. Looking forward to your writing more about this…Happy Saint Patrick’s Day early, Matt

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