More FBI Gardner Museum Garbage: Reporter’s Failure to Ask Right Questions

Gardner - RembrandtThe favorite story-teller for the FBI in the Boston area has come up with another yarn to show our FBI special agents and their DOJ associates in action.  She has a direct connection to the Boston FBI and DOJ who feed her stories in exchange for covering-up their nonsense or doing their duty work. She’s the one who received from the Boston prosecutor’s secret grand jury testimony and published it for the purpose of undermining a person who the prosecutors had a particular animus toward. It helped to hurt that guy but it also sent a message out that anyone who testifies before a grand jury in Boston can have his or her “secret” testimony leaked and nothing will be done about it.

She is now spinning for the FBI its investigative work in tracking down the art work stolen from the Gardner Museum trying to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. The interesting thing about it is that it shows the FBI and the DOJ to be little more than a bunch of bunglers who for lack of any information as to the whereabouts of the art work have fallen for a scam by some petty gangster.

What the FBI has come up with is what I call “a suspect of convenience.”  I came up with that term after working with some cops who would focus on one person for lack of a better suspect and twist and turn every piece of information to fit the suspect. That’s the reason we’ve had so many people who were innocent sent to prison; lacking the real criminal they grab someone else and try to squeeze him into the real criminal’s suit.

The FBI’s “suspect of convenience” is this 79-year-old hoodlum Robert Gentile who lives in Connecticut. The FBI believes he knows where the art work stolen from the Gardner Museum in 1990 is hidden. Why does it believe it? The main reason is it has no other leads. The subsidiary reason is, according to the article, “The FBI began focusing on Gentile in 2009 when the wife of another person of interest, Robert Guarente, told agents that her late husband gave several of the stolen paintings to Gentile before he died in 2004.”

Actually, an earlier article in the same paper contradicts that statement. Three years ago that paper reported that the wife said she saw her husband pass one painting to Gentile. She also said she first saw the painting in the early 1990s and “her recollection of the painting did not match any of the paintings and sketches authorities showed her [from the Gardner heist.]

The FBI finds out in 2009 that prior to 2004 a painting without any known connection with the Gardner art heist was given to Robert Gentile. After it learned that, it began squeezing him to get him to tell it where it is. Gentile, who is a life-long criminal, says he has no idea since he had nothing to do with it. He has said if he did he’d give them up for the reward. He is so hard up for money that an FBI informant was able to set him up to have him sell him a loaded .38 caliber Cobra pistol for $1,000.

Why the FBI believes he is sitting on paintings for which he could collect a five million dollar reward “no questions asked” is baffling?  No reporter seems interested in prying for the answer. Had he had access to those paintings wouldn’t you think he’d have gone for the reward?

Add to this the FBI sends in an undercover agent. Gentile offers to sell the agent two of the paintings for $500,000 each. Why sell them for one million instead of collecting five million? Gentile is reported to have said:  “he feared he would remain a law enforcement target and never get the money . . . .“ That in itself makes no sense. He has been a target since 2009. He could always make arrangements through a lawyer to ensure he got the money.

So what is going on? If the reporter asked a couple of the right questions rather than just being an FBI stenographer we might have found out. First, how did the one picture the woman saw that had no connection to Gardner become several of the stolen paintings that were connected. Next, if Gentile offered to sell the paintings for $500,000 what happened to the deal? You don’t leave something like that up in the air.

Next, the FBI has been hot after Gentile since 2009 including searching his home and the grounds around it and I assume doing electronic surveillance, shouldn’t it be asked if it has any other information linking him to the crime aside from a failed polygraph test?

That’s the trouble with reporters being in bed with their sources. They miss or are afraid to ask the real questions.

7 thoughts on “More FBI Gardner Museum Garbage: Reporter’s Failure to Ask Right Questions

  1. Matt: The New York Times has the same story today. Obviously, the FBI is trying to scare up a few leads. Robert Gentile has been a given a nickname in the NYT version, evidently to burnish his mob credentials. Gentile is known as “The Cook.” This is because he used to cook meals for “mob associates” at a Hartford garage frequented by gangsters. Why would a man described by the FBI as a made member of the Mafia prepare meals for mere “associates”? Beats the hell out of me. Maybe he just liked to cook. It’s also worth pointing out that if you want to inspire fear and terror in the reading public, you could come up with a better nickname than “The Cook.”

  2. There are some things that money just cannot buy, like manners, morals and intelligence.

  3. It’s just hard to imagine a traditional Italian style gangster getting involved in the theft, sale or purchase of a frilly French painting of a horse’s bum. (“Leaving the Paddock”).

  4. With the exception of the Chinese item, everything stolen was French or Dutch.

    The most known Italian art theft was the theft of the Caravaggio Nativity in Palermo in 1969. The cultured mafiosi later said it had been eaten by rats and pigs while hidden, and then burned.

  5. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a four-story Venetian-style palazzo. The first floor Early Italian Room “introduces Isabella Gardner’s love of Italy and of Italian Renaissance art, which became the core of her collection.”

    So taking 13 works of art from the Gardner Museum without taking any with an Italian pedigree would require planning and effort.

    If criminals of Italian descent were involved, they would have sought out at least some Italian art since that would be the works they would have the best opportunity to sell.

    The fact that no Italian art was stolen suggests that whoever did it was not Italian and was probably trying to minimize the risk of Mafia interest in the robbery of any kind.

  6. I think Gentile ‘ s claim to have two of the paintings was an attempt to scam the FBI’s faux drug dealer. But, as you pointed out, the story doesn’t go anywhere. There seems to be an implication that Gentile wanted to be cut in on the drug action before talking about the paintings, but this is never made clear in the story. Also seems like FBI under covers are the only people willing to talk to Gentile — a lonely, senile old crook.

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