Gardner Museum Heist: 27th Anniversary Story: The True Story; Not the FBI’s One: 6/8

Gardner MuseumA day or two later Raymond found a grand jury subpoena in his hand. He went before the grand jury, denied he ever said he was the mayor’s bag man or that he brought cash to him. He was indicted for perjury. In the eyes of the FBI a drunk’s tale was worthy of belief.

So the FBI’s last hope is Gentile who knows nothing about the art work. Once he kicks the bucket the only ones left alive will be Myles Connor who is still playing the Donati/Houghton story and Turner who will have to come up with something to get another sentence reduction.

But no art work has been recovered, no art work has been seen, and the FBI is at a dead-end because early on it made a wrong turn as it is apt to do when it relies on informant stories and fails to look at the evidence staring them in the face.

The Story in the Package: 

I told you what I thought. Professional job, well cased, and buyer lined up before hand. No usual gangsters involved.

Here is another theory that is close to mine and far away from that of the FBI’s,

This is the story that was sent to me at my post office box #9, 02574. But before I go on I must warn you that what I am going to tell is a very bare bones outline of what is contained in over 100 pages of an intriguing, clever, and interesting tale. I am afraid in presenting this truncated version I will not do justice to the full story which contains substantial facts that are used to support the conclusions. For that I apologize but space is tight. Those interested in reading the full story will have to hope the author arranges for it to be published or that some other arrangements can be made.

It begins with a visit last year. A highly successful lawyer from Boston visiting in Sanibel arranged a meeting at a pool side at one of those ubiquitous Gulf front condos in Florida with a person, who I originally took to be a swamp Yankee but who later identifies himself as having Irish Russian heritage, who is a  self-proclaimed artist skilled in tracking people, called Al.

The lawyer tells Al how his “Brahmin friends” are at their wit’s end and willing to spend any amount of money to get back the art work stolen from the Gardner museum. They want to hire Al. He declines the offer saying he knows who stole the paintings but does not know where they are then located. Al suggests he figured this out a while ago because like those Brahmin he too has a great attachment to the Gardner museum from his youth.

Al starts off noting how sometimes the most obvious solution to a crime stares one in the face but it is overlooked. He (like I) noted the FBI has gone down many blind alleys because it relies on its connections with the underworld. He said at the end it “was forced into casting the blame on the old boogeyman . . . the mafia.” It settled on this because one of the robbers was said to have “squinty eyes.” Al found it mysterious that the FBI did not rely on “their well known, time-honored profile i.e., someone ratting, . . . “ (As I’ve noted that is just the other side of the informant coin.) He mentions the contact with the FBI by letter in 1994 and how nothing came of it because the FBI did not cooperate in good faith. (Hard to say why that letter came to nothing. Someone could have been pulling FBI’s leg.)

Al noted, as I have, the FBI’s conclusion the theft was carried out by “petty thieves” and “not done by experienced criminals” and was “messy and ineffectual.” He too finds that error. He suggests it was a well planned robbery involving two vehicles (one van to take the paintings) and four people, two standing watch outside with walkie-talkies, the tampering with the alarm system by a computer expert, etc.


3 thoughts on “Gardner Museum Heist: 27th Anniversary Story: The True Story; Not the FBI’s One: 6/8

  1. There was no van. Everything they took could fit neatly and discreetly into a generic seeming hatchback that looked like half of the other cars on the road.

    After some of them were cut out of the frames that is. And “they abandoned the Rembrandt self-portrait on wood, presumably because it was too heavy or could not be properly cut from it’s frame”

    From “Priceless: How I Went Under Cover to rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures” by Robert K. Wittman 2010.

    All the pieces taken were relatively small. They would not have “abandoned” a Rembrandt if they had a van waiting outside. And they would not have needed to take painstaking effort cutting some paintings from their frames inside of the museum if they had a van.

    And vans are distinct. These guys were all about getting away from the locals and staties that night. They did not leave the Museum for 13 minutes after they left the galleries. That’s about the average total time for a European Art Heist.

    They didn’t go through all that trouble just to go blundering down the Mass. Pike in a van. They most very very VERY likely did what Myles Connor did when he robbed the MFA. They took the Jamaica Way. The car from the video from the previous night looks most like a Mazda 323, but there was an eighties “turbo” version:

    “It may not look like much but Mazda’s 323 GTX is a turbocharged…rally car for the road.”

    Take off the rear air foils and it would look like an ordinary hatchback. A “sleeper” we used to call them when I was kid. The Buick Skylark was a popular sleeper in the muscle car days.

    A 1989 Crown Vic or whatever the BPD were driving back then wouldn’t stand a chance against a car like that on the Jamaica Way.

    From there I speculate they took back roads to the Blue Hills Reservation for a vehicle switch and then to Norwood Airport, but it is pure speculation based on details about the people I suspect were involved. (Not Myles Connor nor an associate of his). But they had to have taken the Jamaica Way and they had the vehicle to do it in.

    Brian McDevitt tried to use a commandeered van to rob the Hyde Collection in Glen Falls, NY. He was caught (in traffic) and arrived too late. That’s how good vans are.

    Here’s a little tip from a guy who grew up in the suburbs, Matt, don’t believe any story that involves “’Brahmin friends’ … willing to spend any amount of money” on anything.

    The Gardner Trustees did hire IGI, a private investigative firm based in Washington begun by Terry Lenzner, who had cut his teeth as a lawyer for the Senate Watergate Committee, and Larry Potts, a former top deputy in the FBI was assigned to the case. The FBI took a dim view shall we say of this initiative by the Museum.

  2. Matt,
    “truncated?”… understatement of the highest magnitude.
    I hope Parts 7 and 8 lay out the theory more thoroughly.

    I agree with Tadzio….let’s see the 100 pages… have the technology to make it happen, Matt.

    Regards and Happy St. Pats Day,

  3. The hundred pages could be turned into pdf pages and posted. Essentially, each page is a photograph. Many home printers today have the ability to do this. Ask a grandchild he will know more about it than either of us ever will. It would probably take him or her under an hour.

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