What do Stradivarius and Rembrandt have in common? Both had one of their precious art works stolen in the Boston/Cambridge area of Massachusetts, both were investigated by the FBI, both investigations were bungled, and the Boston media skips over any analysis or inquiry into the FBI’s bungling and merely repeats the latest FBI sound bite, also known as a press release.
When you have a secret police force like the FBI and the local media remains dependent upon it as a new born kitten on its mother’s milk then the news of its incompetence is kept well-hidden and the public is ill-served. There is no greater example of this than the cases of the stolen Stradivarius and Rembrandt.
The father of Nina Totenberg of public radio and television fame, Roman Totenberg, was a famous violinist. He died in 2012 at the age of 101. For the last 32 years of his life he was saddened by the theft of his violin, the Ames Stradivarius, He had owned it for 38 years. It was stolen from his office at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass.
According to Nina, her father has suspected a Philip Johnson of stealing the violin. The investigators did not act on the father’s information saying they did not have enough evidence for a search warrant. It would turn out that Johnson had stolen it. It was recovered because he left it in his will to a descendant who went to get it appraised and the appraiser notified the police.
The FBI issued a press release about the matter. It disenguously put in its title that the violin was Missing for 35 Years Before Its Recovery by the FBI:” It wasn’t recovered by the FBI. It was turned over to it.
The bulletin did give the appraiser credit for “good citizenship” but patted itself on the back by noting its “prompt response.” It concluded by noting the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of N.Y. “Bharara thanked the FBI and the NYPD for their outstanding work on this matter.”
This is the bull I talk about. The FBI was called by the appraiser to pick up the violin. It did. It considers that “outstanding work.”
The problem is the FBI was in on the case within days after it was stolen as were the Cambridge police. The violin was stolen during an invitation only reception involving 260 people. Roman and his family immediately focused on Philip Johnson. Nina said he mother was willing to pay some local hoods to break into the suspect’s apartment to look for it.
Yet, the FBI would not do a search for it. Why? What would have been the harm? If it was there it would have been recovered; if it was not then no one was hurt.
Now we hear from Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz who says: “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. Today we are releasing video images from the night before the theft — images which have not previously been seen by the public — with the hope of identifying an unauthorized visitor to the museum. With the public’s help, we may be able to develop new information that could lead to the recovery of these invaluable works of art.”
Vincent Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Boston said, “This latest request for the public’s assistance illustrates the FBI’s continued commitment to the Gardner investigation. By releasing this video, we hope to generate meaningful leads and ultimately recover the stolen artwork.” This from a man who said he knew who had done it.
I guess after these developments we can conclude the FBI has no idea who stole the paintings despite its prior lies statements.
Now keep in mind the FBI has had the video in its possession for over 25 years. I suggest it had to have been viewed countless times. The Globe suggests the video will now turn the spotlight on Richard Abath the security guard. Are we to believe the FBI didn’t already question him about it. The Globe apparently believes it didn’t take that elementary step. It sent a reporter out to his house to ask him about it as if it is newly discovered evidence.
The video shows nothing other than that Abath let a person into visit him early in the morning. I have to believe he’s been questioned about it, the FBI has interviewed him, and he is not a suspect. If it did not do that then one must consider it grossly negligent. If it did, and it is pretending that it is newly discovered evidence, one must find it totally duplicitous.
The tragedy is, and I note this over and over again, no one asks the right questions. These are simple ones. “When was the video first viewed? Was Abath questioned about it? Did he identify the person in it? Was that person questioned? Etc. Perhaps some day our local media will stop being the FBI’s satraps.