The Art of the Con: The Gardner Museum and the FBI

stradivariusI wrote how the FBI announced it had recovered a Stradivarius violin and that it told how it was praised by the Justice Department for its outstanding work” when all its agents did was take custody of it from a violin appraiser who recognized it as having been stolen.  I’ve mentioned this many times before that the FBI is in the business of fooling the American people which is all right since it has been doing that since J. Edgar Hoover took over back in 1924; the only time a problem arises is if it is fooling itself. Its job is too important for it to be doing that yet if it considers taking custody of a violin and transporting it back to its office “outstanding work” then we have an agency that is in big trouble.

Which brings me to the case of the 25-year-old Gardner Museum heist which is trending lately. This is because Carmen Ortiz has released a video of a man who visited the Gardner Museum the night before the grand theft saying the FBI agents: “are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying an unauthorized visitor to the museum the night before the theft.” Ortiz went on to explain that the car seen in the video fits the general description of the car seen outside the Gardner the night of the heist.

Now put on your thinking caps and delve into the area of circumstantial evidence. Do you think the man who drove the car in the video would have driven it both nights? If so, do you think he is one of the robbers?

If you do you have a problem because the FBI reports that it knows the identity of the two men who did the robbery posing as police officers but for some reason known only to the FBI it won’t tell us who they are other than that they are dead. You would think that if it was not conning us it would tell us who they were. It’s a well know legal precept that you can’t libel the dead so there’s really no legitimate reason not to tell us other than they really have no idea who did it.

So if the FBI does not think the man in the video did the robbery, what does it think about him? It won’t tell us so we are left to guess. Has anyone asked who the FBI thinks it might be and what his relationship to the robbers is? Does it think he might be a robber and one of the dead robbers? If so, why are they asking us to identify him?

There are more problems than that.  I assume the FBI in its initial investigation took custody of the video. Wouldn’t you like to know when it first viewed it and what it did at that time? Wouldn’t you like to know why it sat on it for 25 years without telling anyone about it? Or did it?

The overall problem with the video is this. The video of the night of the robbery was taken by the robbers. It is fair to assume from that the robbers knew a video of the happenings at the Gardner Museum was in use. If a robber, or in this case an associate, visited the night before wouldn’t he know he was on a video and want to take that video also. It seems if you take one video that may be used against you that you would want to take all of them.

Then we have the old Norfolk DA George Burke surface with a secret client who can identify the man on the video. According to the Patriot Ledger Burke: “says the client believes the person pictured in the video is someone he knew who worked with antiques and had contact with Myles Connor, . . .”  Anyone with half a brain, as Ben Carson famously noted fills our government offices in Washington, D.C.,  who read that statement would know the guy is a phony. 

Here’s why. Myles was a famous bargainer. There is no way he would have done the long stretches he did in prison if he knew who did the Gardner theft. Also, the men the FBI say did it had no connection with Myles.

So what is going on. The truth is the FBI is at a dead-end. It is faking it. If the FBI didn’t depend so much on dirt ball informers it might have not been going down so many blind alleys. The video serves two purposes: to make it look like it is doing something; and as a Hail Mary pass.

Perhaps some years from now someone will stumble upon or inherit one of the items, bring it to an art dealer, he will recognize it and call the FBI. The FBI will hold a press conference telling us how it “recovered” the art work and what an “outstanding job” it did.

As an aside I suggest an article by Tom Mashberg the former Herald Reporter who was duped into thinking he saw the Rembrandt is another look at the Gardner heist from Myles Connor’s perspective.

21 replies on “The Art of the Con: The Gardner Museum and the FBI”

  1. It could have been a test of Abath’s commitment level and capacity to follow through. Also to have something on Abath. They didn’t want it just be their word against his if things went sour. Why there so long? What’s with the paperwork? It looks like the guy is avoiding the camera. His collar is turned up on one side and he is hunched over, may have miscalculated his exposure to the camera.

  2. Lotta smoke in thre room there. This is where language tethers you to misunderstanding and conceptual sleep. You should not give a damn on trying to score jaded cynic points for cheap thrills over ” people who use the word casing are just blowing smoke. ” Until solved it is all … speculation there Sherlock. In direct violation of security protocols this Guy … he was there … the night before …. exuding a husky criminality. The rest is WHAT ??? It is a case study in not letting your own smoke get in your eyes. Meanwhile, just play with it as your ” Smoke Machine ” is just a variant of any others … including the FBI. Lottssaaa’ smoke goin’ round. IT’S STILL ALL SMOKE AND PAINTINGS …. AND A FINIAL 🙂

  3. As Churchill said of Russia,…the Gardner heist has been “a riddle wrapped in a mystery,… inside an enigma.”

    But this is the chance to break it wide open…it could have been a dry run,,just to see if Rick answered the door (using a ruse about the car? maybe asking if he could use a phone to call AAA? unless DanC is right. It is strange how he went to the door then ran back to the car to put his parking lights on (and grab drugs?) and then went back to the door, went in, stayed 3 minutes, most of which time he was off camera,(making a drug deal with Rick the security guard?) and then left. He was also strangely parked about 3 feet from the curb.

    What are George Burke and the FBI waiting for?

    Who is the guy, and why was he there?

    1. The mystery man is probably dead too. Do you think the thieves, whoever they may be, destroyed these priceless works after discovering they were too hot to sell?

      1. Dan:

        It has always been my opinion that it was a professional job. The two thieves were hired to do it for their expertise. They were selective in what they took unlike something you would have seen from any of the usual suspects that the FBI has been chasing after for years.

        History teaches that if any of the hoodlums had these paintings they would have stored them in a place where they could either be sold or bartered. Their actions would have become pretty well known among those in the underworld who make it their business to know what is going on. What happened over the years is guys started to come out of the woodwork who were jammed in on some type crime and they found sucker ears waiting to hear stories about the paintings.

        An FBI agent in charge of the investigation contradicted the FBI SAC at the time he said he knew who did the theft by stating something to the effect if they knew who did the theft they’d have a better idea on what happened to the paintings. If on the odd chance they had been stolen by local hoods as that FBI agent surmised and they woke up the next day (his words) realizing what they had done and how difficult it would be to fence then there would be no sense for them to keep them and they would have destroyed them. But why would two guys do such a thing, that is steal select paintings and not know what they were doing? Why would anyone do it without having a way to get rid of them?
        Keep in mind except for some hoodlums looking for deals there has been no talk anywhere about the stolen art. That tells me the thieves were well paid and commissioned to get the items. Of course I would not mind being wrong in all this but it is just that if this nut could be cracked it would have been done a long time ago unless the FBI is really more evil than MS thinks they are.

        1. Hi Matt, The thieves swiped some items that weren’t so valuable and left behind some art work they should taken. If they thought the cops were on to them (either in point of fact or because of their own paranoia) they might have destroyed the evidence. Having said this , I hope your scenario is the right one.

          1. Dan.

            Of course there is a chance as unlikely as I think it is that the thieves were run of the mill hoodlums who found out they got in over their heads and they could not fence the stuff they sold; what then? Keep it to incriminate themselves or get rid of it. That is what makes the FBI approach so full of folly; if its supposition is correct that the thieves bit off more than they could chew then it should accept that they figured the best thing to do was get rid of the evidence and stop pretending that it hopes to recover the art.

    2. RAther:

      You have to surmise that the FBI viewed this tape within a few days of the heist. At that time the guard who let him in identified him. The FBI tracked him down, interviewed him, his story checked out, and the tape was put away. Nothing else makes sense unless the FBI is totally inept and did not look at it.

      The people who say he was casing the place are blowing smoke. If he wanted to case the place he could have done it during the broad daylight when the general public was admitted. The last thing he would be doing if he planned on ripping it off the next day was coming in the night before and letting himself be videoed. You have to assume the guard knew the video was running and that if checked it would show his visitor so he didn’t have any concern for that because he could explain it as he did with the FBI.

      The guy was a friend of the guard, he was bringing a joint or two or a sub sandwich or a nip, he was on his way home to bed but stopped to chat for a minute or two. All the law enforcement people know this but they also know they can get big publicity by releasing the tape since no one dares ask the questions that should be asked.

      1. Elbows ‘ etch a sketch’ Wychulis sez this just in from
        the whisper stream….


        Infamous art thief revisits criminal past in Ellsworth
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        By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
        March 06, 2014, at 11:39 a.m.

        also see
        Myles Connor Jr. tells Milton audience about his life and art heists …
        Sep 27, 2013 – Almost 50 years after his first robbery in Milton, convicted art thief Myles Connor Jr. was at the Milton Art Center Thursday evening for a …

        1. keep the heat on them Matt
          don’t forget your wet bulb thermometer,eh?

          Scribbling for environmental, social and economic justice
          2015’s Cruel Climate Count Continues as NASA Shows July Was Hottest On Record

          Andrew Freeman is right. It’s been a cruel, cruel summer. Hothouse mass casualty events, spurred by a ridiculous accumulation of heat trapping gasses in the Earth atmosphere, have spanned the Northern Hemisphere. The result has been thousands of lives lost and the hospitalization of tens of thousands more as global temperatures rocketed to levels not seen in probably 100,000 years (related — Hothouse Mass Casualties Strike Egypt).

          July of 2015 Hottest on Record

          Now, in a record-shattering hot year featuring extreme weather weirdness and an emerging monster El Nino, yet one more record has fallen. For according to both NASA and Japan’s Meteorological Agency (JMA), July of 2015 squashed and smashed previous record hot Julys 2011 (NASA) and 1998 (JMA) to take the title as hottest July yet.

          July Temperatures Japan Meteorological Agency

          (Japan’s Meteorological Agency shows July of 2015 was the hottest on record by a wide margin.)

          In the JMA graph, beginning in 1890, you can plainly see the new July record is well above the +0.67 C per Century warming trend line of the last 125 years. A new high that leaves the 1998 super El Nino year in the dust.

          For JMA, that’s 0.72 C above the 20th Century average and about 1 C above 1890. For NASA, global temperatures also hit a similarly hot range. July of 2015 was 0.75 C above their 20th Century base line — putting it at about 0.95 C hotter than 1880s values when annual record keeping began. Now we only wait on NOAA’s report coming out in a few days for a final confirmation of this obscene July heat.

          2015 On Track For Hottest Year By a Wide Margin

          Focusing in on the NASA measure, we find that January through July temperatures are setting a course for a record shattering 2015. Overall, global temperatures during that seven month period were 0.8 C above NASA’s 20th Century benchmark and about 1 C above 1880s values. A level of heat that, if it were simply maintained, would beat out previous record hot year, 2014, by a substantial margin (0.07 C).

          To the layman, these may seem like small numbers except when one considers that just 3.5 C of cooling from Holocene climates means the start of a new ice age. In just 135 years we’ve hit 30 percent of the difference between the Holocene and an ice age — but on the side of hot. Moreover, an annual temperature climb of 0.07 C equals 7 degrees Celsius warming if maintained for one Century. So a one year jump in that range is a pretty wide margin, especially when we consider that we’re now experiencing back-to-back hottest years on record.

          El Nino + Climate Change In the NASA Graphic

          NASA Temp Map July 2015

          (NASA’s July distribution of hot and cold temperature anomalies shows a world that’s tipping more and more toward climate extremes. Image source: NASA GISS.)

          Geospatially, the representation of hot and cold temperature extremes in the NASA map hints at an absolute mess for July weather patterns. While abnormal and extreme warmth dominated the East Siberian, Chukchi, and Beaufort airs, a plug of below average temperatures hovered over the Laptev. Two substantial chimneys of heat extended into the Arctic — one exploding up from the Hot Blob in the Pacific and another stretching diagonally over the Lake Baikal region of Russia (Related: The Dry Land Burned Like Grass). Most of Western Europe baked while the Yamal region cooled. In the North Atlantic the Climate Change signature and storm generating cool pool maintained — gearing up to throw a few wicked cyclones at the British Isles in the midst of, what should be placid, summer.

          And all across the equatorial region anomalous heat built — pushing monthly temperatures from 1-4 degrees Celsius above average in some of the typically hottest regions of the world. In this analysis we must pause for a moment to point out the awesome and terrible wave of heat building up from the Eastern Equatorial Pacific, telegraphing through the Hot Blobs off the North American West Coast and extending on up through the Bering Sea. A teleconnection feature that must fall if California is to have any hope of receiving a drought busting set of storms this Winter — monster El Nino or no.

          The mid-to-equatorial latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere were also abnormally warm with few regions showing any departure into cooler than ‘normal’ in this zone. Meanwhile, the Southern Polar Region was a mess of hot ridges and cold troughs indicative of a very wavy Jet Stream pattern for the zone. In particular, a ridge blazing south through the Weddell Sea set off some much warmer than normal readings for Coats Land and the Ronne Ice Shelf.

          El Nino Zonal Signature

          (Zonal temperature anomalies for July show a clear signature of El Nino and a climate change related heat sink in the Southern Ocean. Image source: NASA GISS.)

          In the NASA zonal map, we can clearly see the signature of El Nino. Equatorial temperatures are the hottest in the measure pushing to +1.3 degrees Celsius above average over the world’s belt-line. To the north, heat gradually tapered off — still maintaining near +1 C through the 40 degree line before dipping down to around +0.8 to +0.3 C in the 50s, 60s, and 70s and then rising again to around +0.7 C at the pole.

          To the south, anomalies rapidly plunged throughout most zones — dipping to +0.35 C in the range of the furious fifties (50 degrees South Latitude). In the oceanic heat sink region where fresh and icy water met the warmer, saltier waters of the Southern Ocean, heat uptake by that ocean-atmosphere interface hit an extreme level as negative zonal anomalies spiked to -1.4 C in the range of 65 South Latitude. This ocean heat uptake and related atmospheric cooling is associated with a global warming related fresh water outflow due to Antarctic glacial melt — the Southern Hemisphere version of the North Atlantic cool pool. Zonal temperatures swing again higher, hitting +0.6 C at the land glacier edge in the region between 70 and 80 South, before dipping to around -0.7 C in the Antarctic interior near 90 South.

          Conditions in Context

          During the record hot July of 2015 temperature and weather hit new extremes. Variation between hot and cold temperatures became greater over many regions of the globe as hot and cool pools grew in prominence and related weather influence. Glacial melt and ocean current change related cool pools dominated the North Atlantic and a band near 70 South in the Southern Ocean. Meanwhile, extreme equatorial heat associated with El Nino developed teleconnections with high amplitude ridges — especially with the Hot Blob related Ridiculously Resilient Ridge over the Northeastern Pacific.

          In addition, a synergy developed between high ocean temperatures, related high humidity, and a number of dangerous heatwaves. Near record and record hot waters in the regions of India, Pakistan, and Japan synergistically enabled deadly, mass-casualty producing heatwaves in those regions. This is due to the fact that hot waters enable higher wet bulb temperatures over land — pushing wet bulbs, at times, close to the human survival limit of 35 C.

  4. Today they don’t know what they are doing. Back in the 80s they were a solid outfit. They put the top 150 Mafia guys on the East Coast away. They imprisoned the top White Collar thieves ( Boesky, Milliken, D. Levine et al). Drug prosecutions increased. Today the DOJ has de emphasized the drug war. Less arrests, less prosecutions but a tripling of Heroin overdoses. None of the financial bandits from the big banks were prosecuted for the meltdown in 2008. The ones who gave us credit default swaps, sub prime mortgages and ninja loans were given a pass and the taxpayers were given the bill. The Mafia, the biggest Heroin distributor in the country has become a de facto partner of the DOJ. In the Whitey saga the top four hitmen for the Mob, Flemmi, Salemme, and the Martorano brothers are set free along with other killers, Winter and Nee. They released nine serial killers to catch one. It was as lopsided as the Bergdal trade. Justice was not done. But they are just a reflection of all government. Good publicity is all that counts. 2. The technique of showing the video and asking for the publics help is a scam. One would think that they would be chastened by their previous false conduct in the Tsarnaev affair. They had the pictures of the bombers by Tuesday. They cancel their press conference on Wednesday. They concoct a story that they need the public’s help to I. d. the culprits. Ten to twenty people in the Boston office could have made Tamerlan. They wanted to pretend he was a stranger. Fortunately the Russians exposed them. A similar pattern in the Benghazi attack was employed. Concoct the You Tube story. See if an inattentive public falls for it. The fish rots from the head down. The person in the Gardner video is likely an FBI agent.

    1. sigh!

      True Detective: Chicago, El Chapo, & Vince Vaughn’s Mom
      Posted on August 12, 2015 by Daniel Hopsicker

      vince-vaughnActor Vince Vaughn, in the news for his starring role in HBO’s True Detective and recent controversial statements advocating more guns in schools, now has a new source of notoriety guaranteed to keep him in face time: his family.

      Vaughn’s mother, Sharon Vaughn, a sparkling and vivacious Chicagoland socialite, and his step-father, Stephen Ferrone, a lawyer and former brokerage manager, both have links to a criminal enterprise involved in the biggest seizure of drugs on a plane in Mexican history.

  5. yawn….

    did anyone check to see if FBI agents edited videotape?

    in other news….

    Different Justice for a Disgraced FBI Agent and Antwuan Ball
    August 13, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    David Wilson, an inmate convicted for being the getaway driver in a D.C. murder case, uncovered the existence of a confession he says will exonerate him, but nobody can find the tape. Reporter Jim McElhatton has covered D.C. crime for years and witnessed this intersection between Wilson’s case and disgraced FBI agent Matthew Lowry during his reporting.DL_prison_lorton-1

    George Ball took a rare afternoon off from his job as a meeting planner for a trade group to spend some time in a U.S. District courtroom. He was attending the July 9 sentencing of Matthew Lowry, the FBI agent who pleaded guilty to taking at least 20 bags of seized heroin—some containing hundreds of grams—from the FBI’s evidence room.

    Ball is one of more than two dozen drug defendants whose cases were tossed because Lowry tainted the evidence. There’s been much press attention about how the Lowry case robbed the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office of the chance to try complicated drug conspiracy cases that can take years to investigate and prosecute.

    The courtroom was packed with reporters and family, so Ball, 67, was nearly turned away. He insisted on a seat. After more than an hour, he said, he found himself sitting alongside Lowry’s family, near the front row.

    “I was determined to see how justice works on the other side of the case,” Ball later tells City Paper in an interview.

    Ball says Lowry’s conviction actually robbed him of the chance to clear his name, and that he didn’t want to see his own charges dismissed on a technicality. He says that even though he risked more than decade in prison, he told his attorney that he wouldn’t be pleading guilty.

    “The whole time I was under this cloud for a year and half, never was my name associated with the word ‘innocent,’” Ball says. “I kind of feel sorry that Lowry got into this trouble because now I’

  6. Agree, Matt. I looked at the video, and it certainly didn’t seem like a practice run for the real robbery. It occurred to me that it might be a small – time drug deal in which the guard bought some dope. That would explain his apparent forgetfulness. Now
    that’s just a stab in the dark, which is the same game the FBI seems to be playing.

  7. Myles didn’t show up for a therefore spectacular Not Guilty Your Honor and was subsequently, upon a impressively love of Mom backyard caper while visiting … Mother …. apprehended in the doghouse. Or such. He is Myles Connor.
    Overthinking perhaps : Why so unlikely that same … Actor… cases and then participating on next night? ★ Certainly Gardner tapes weren’t minutely pored over except in the case of security issues ( The ROBBERY certainly being a really big one) and unless switched out daily, and even if so, had a temporal Virtue of being likely to be viewed post facto
    What, Me Worry !!! says the Mastermind. It seems logical he was.★ Seems the Federal agency probably as immersed, but no more as GM Security Director Anthony Amore, who in some very good books he has Writ has colored the Persian warp and woof of the Flying Carpet of Imagination everyone tears for when THE ROBBERY is … On the Carpet. ★ Isabella Stewart Gardner is on The Case, I do not doubt !!!

    1. First you did not get Kessler ‘ the FBI mouthpiece’ fist name
      correct ,then MTC spells Gardiner Garner,

      in other news

      The FBI Agent Who Hunted N.W.A
      Daily Beast
      In the late ’80s, the FBI targeted the hip-hop group N.W.A for their
      incendiary anthem “Fuck tha Police,” and transformed the rappers into
      First …

      also see

      The FBI Considers The IRS & DOJ, Domestic Terrorists
      Tyler Durden’s picture
      Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/11/2015 22:30 -0400
      Submitted by Thad Beversdorf via,

      Eventually it was bound to happen. The ever increasing ambiguous laws
      that allow the government to prosecute, or worse, simply negate all
      Constitutional protections of its citizens would come back to hang
      them. In an unusual circumstance, what is essentially one party in
      D.C. when it comes to matters

        1. ugh! ugh! sigh!

          Stolen Picasso Cubist Masterpiece Returns To The Pompidou
          Author Bill Blare Published August 14, 2015 Comments 0

          US authorities returned the stolen $15 million Picasso painting La Coiffeuse to France on Thursday, nine months after it was found in a FedEx shipment listed as a $37 handicraft. It had been taken from a yacht off the French island of Corsica.

          When Pablo Picasso died in 1973, he left a colossal collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures…”The Hairdresser” dates back to the Spanish painter’s Cubist era, at the beginning of the 20th century.

          “It’s really a great thing to be able to recover a piece of cultural property like this”, said Robert Wittman, a former FBI agent who founded the bureau’s national art crime team and now president of his own art security consultancy.

          The painting’s recovery is notable, Wittman said. The 1906 painting was reportedly impounded by French custom officials following an Spanish export ban. His m

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