The FBI’s Gardner Museum Problem: It Has No Clue

(`) Joe BltzIf there was any question that the news media is a lap-dog of the local FBI just look at this quote from the first line in a front page newspaper article last Friday: “The recent discovery of old surveillance footage that energized the investigation into the 1990 Gardner Museum heist . . . “

The discovery was not recent. The FBI has had the video containing the surveillance footage for 25 years. Its public disclosure was recent. We must assume the FBI viewed it many times over the years otherwise it is a disgrace.

The FBI’s Gardner Museum problem is not the media. Our local Boston media which depends on the FBI as sources has a record of abysmal failure when it comes to questioning anything it says. It serves as the FBI publicity bureau and faithful Helen Gandy.

The FBI’s Gardner Museum problem is itself. It cannot seem to keep its story straight. Whether it is because it is lazy or sloppy it is hard to tell; or perhaps it is because no matter what it says or does it knows the Boston media will always stand and cheer for it like high school cheerleaders.

I wrote about this about two and a half years ago.  It is appropriate with Carmen Ortiz’s office and the FBI making a big show of releasing the video that we go back in time to see what I said.

I wrote in March 2013 that: According to the official FBI press release FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said “[w]e have identified the thieves . . .” It goes on to say  that Special Agent Geoffrey Kelly “is the lead investigator in the case and a member of the Art Crime Team.”

DesLauriers, since retired, did not tell us whether the thieves were among the quick at that time. We have recently learned that they are not.  

I wrote that: “You have to believe that if the FBI identified these two guys who stole the art work  . . . it would know a lot about them like their background, their habits, their education, their friends, and so on.” I don’t think there is anyone who would disagree with that. In a case as important as the Gardner Museum heist we have to assume the FBI left no stone unturned. That goes to even assuming they viewed the video of March 16, 1990, the day before the theft and identified the dude who came into  the museum.

After that I noted that at about the same time the leader of the investigation: “FBI Agent Geoffrey Kelly said that because the painting were sliced out of the frame “that’s indicative of a rank amateur when it comes to art theft. (my emphasis) That made me scratch my head. If Kelly knew who did it he’d know if they were rank amateurs and would not be saying  some action of theirs indicated that is what they were. Also, if they cut the painting from the frame you could say that does not point to “rank amateurs” but clever professionals who could not tell when they cased the joint whether the frames were alarmed so they couldn’t chance taking them off the wall.

Kelly did not stop there. He said: ”They were clever in how they got into the museum, but the working profile points to inexperienced art thieves.” I noted at the time that “if you know who they are you don’t have a “working profile.”” If you know them you know whether they are inexperienced or not.

Kelly continued by telling how they took with them the surveillance tape and a print out of a motion detector. He said that gave them “a comfort level that really would establish they had they had some type of knowledge about how the security protocols were conducted at the museum.” My gut told me that amateurs don’t do that, professionals do.

I pointed out Kelly went on to say, “it’s highly probable the thieves had no idea of the magnitude of their crime until they woke up the next morning and realized they had committed the “heist of the century.”  He continued by saying they must have decided it was best to “wait until the head dies down” before they tried to sell them. How do you square Kelly’s surmise as to who the thieves are and what happened afterwards with the FBI saying they know who they are?

If Kelly’s scenario is right and a couple of stumble bums pulled off the “heist of the century” isn’t the first thing they do is to destroy the evidence? If they are in way over their heads their first reaction is to start digging out.

I explained back then: “Here’s what is going on. The FBI in 2011 did a big publicity push on Whitey and ended up capturing him. It reasons that if that worked, why not do the same with the Gardner heist. The only thing the FBI has not figured into the equation is that the Gardner robbers were real professionals, Whitey, in truth, was an amateur.”

The newspaper article first mentioned showed my explanation proved to be right on the mark. The AUSA in charge of the investigation Brian Kelly was interviewed. He is quoted as saying: Any strategy to raise public awareness of the artworks . . .  can aid in the investigation, noting it was a public tip that led to the arrest and ultimate conviction in 2013 of notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. “Certainly, keeping it in the news is helpful because it does lead to tips, and at some point they will get lucky,. . . They just have to get lucky once.”

How does this all square with knowing who did it. What does Kelly mean by “any strategy?” Lying about knowing the identity of the thieves? Pretending you don’t know who is in the video? Acting like you’re doing something when nothings happening?

One thing we did learn from Kelly. All the so-called information about the robbers is nonsense. The FBI is hoping for one lucky tip. It really has no clue.



8 thoughts on “The FBI’s Gardner Museum Problem: It Has No Clue

  1. this just in….

    BI Evidence Proves Innocence of Accused Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
    August 17, 2015

    FBI Evidence Proves Innocence of Accused Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

    I have been contacted by attorney John Remington Graham, a member in good standing of the bar of the Minnesota Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court. He informs me that acting in behalf of Maret Tsanaeva, the aunt of the accused Tsamaev brothers and a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic where she is qualified to practice law, he has assisted her in filing with the US District Court in Boston a pro se motion, including an argument of amicus cu

  2. Matt:
    you must admit FBI agents do certain things well.

    Why Did the FBI Spy on James Baldwin?

    Aug. 15 2015, 9:37 a.m.

    James Baldwin’s FBI file contains 1,884 pages of documents, collected from 1960 until the early 1970s. During that era of illegal surveillance of American writers, the FBI accumulated 276 pages on Richard Wright, 110 pages on Truman Capote, and just nine pages on Henry Miller. Baldwin’s file was closer in size to activists and radicals of the day — for example, it’s nearly half as thick as Malcolm X’s.

    In his new biography, All Those Strangers, Douglas Field decodes these files with great literary and historical finesse. Baldwin often said that his relation to politics was that of a “witness,” but he was vehemently stalked, harassed and even censored by the FBI. Field asserts that after looking through Baldwin’s FBI file, it’s clear his phone was tapped and that government agents, posing as publishers or car salesmen, followed him as he traveled to France, Britain and Italy.

    The biography has landed at a particularly sharp moment in our awareness of government surveillance. We now have not only the National Security Agency and its global spying, but the FBI and local law enforcement agencies targeting political activists, such as supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. And the NYPD, for instance, has its own counterterrorism unit that has surveilled entire communities.

    Why did the FBI spy on Baldwin? He was a novelist, essayist and critic, one of the most distinguished writers and thinkers of his time. His skin was black, his sexuality fluid, and his politics tended toward the left, a combination that was enough to turn him into a target for the FBI.

    Yet looking at his FBI file, even the most basic facts of his life are riddled with inaccuracies. There is, for instance, a description of Baldwin as “white, early 20s, 6′, neat.” In another file, Baldwin is listed as the author of “Go Tell It to the Mountains” and “Another World.” His first and third novels are in fact titled Go Tell It On The Mountain and Another Country. Such baffling errors read like a precursor to the ways in which bulk collection of metadata today often results in wellsprings of misinformation.

    Baldwin’s dossier reads like a long, poorly written novel itself — it is, in every sense, fiction produced by the state.

    The FBI is not alone in trying, albeit comically at times, to identify Baldwin

    see link for full story

    in other news

    FBI Files – The Patriarca Papers – Entry 3, Part 1
    GoLocalProv-August 15,2015
    This week’s presentation of the FBI files of The Patriarca Papers unveils a range of new information tied to the New York families and

  3. There is something protruding from his right back pants pocket. The bulge is too distinct and narrow to be a wallet. A knife? A pager? A tool that a right handed person would keep in that pocket. Also a watch on the left wrist suggests a righty.

    A slim, fair skinned, right handed white male, with no sign of balding, between the ages 23-45 of a height within a three inch range based on the height of the two guards and objects in the room.

    You’re already under one percent of the population at that point. Under 2 million Americans.

    Add a slightly upturned nose, circular type ear with no earlobe (unusual) a right ear that prominently sticks out, broad shoulders and scoliosis (swayback). Then add in a conservative estimate of his intelligence level at a minimum of at the high end of average.

    Assuming he’s an American, and knowing what the FBI knows and the precision with which they are in a position to know it, there are fewer than 10,000 people and probably closer to 1,000 people the person in the video could possibly be in the United States, not counting my unconvincing scoliosis diagnosis, and even without considering past criminal history or things like whether the person ever traveled East of the Mississippi or not.

    They know who it is. If they didn’t know or really wanted the public’s help they would provide the height and distinguishing characteristics they themselves gleaned from the video instead of throwing it out there like home movies from one Christmas or another long ago.

    This isn’t a manhunt. They don’t want to hear from people who recognize him from the mall last week. They’re hoping to hear from past intimates, people who can provide more than just an identification. Or maybe they hope to get family members to notice, who might put pressure on the person to cooperate privately before they wind up having to cooperate publicly.

  4. “Hmmm? is your furniture original Duncan Phyfe or Louis XIV?”

    No, it’s actually Jordan Marsh 1965. Good provenance.

    The matter is not so much about value; chipping is a great way to prove it is YOUR stolen item when the Whitey’s of this world insist they got the item from the estate of deceased Aunt Doirin in Mattapan.

    1. HB:

      Ithe MTC irregulars, including Elbows Wychulis recently attended
      the Houston Brooks Auntie Doirin Estate auction but
      could not afford any of her Shaker furniture that came up
      for sale.


      Elbows did pick up a item of used FBI surplus equipment.
      One he learns how to turn it on he will pass the information on
      to the Errol Garner museum for their collection of Chauncy Gardner
      Objets de Art.


      How the F.B.I. Uses Facial Recognition Analysis

      AUG. 14, 2015

      I would like to clarify several points about the F.B.I.’s Next Generation Identification technology’s use of facial recognition analysis.

      While the Next Generation Identification technology could theoretically be used to search a wide range of photos, in practice it searches only against a pool of existing mug shots. The database is not a repository for Department of Motor Vehicle photographs or surveillance photos.

      Furthermore, the F.B.I.’s Next Generation Identification system does not use facial recognition analysis to positively identify individuals. Rather, the technology applies an algorithm to compile an array of photographs with physical characteristics similar to those of the suspect in the submitted photo. Investigators may then take logical investigative steps, under proper legal authorities, to generate and pursue leads based upon the results.

      The F.B.I. is committed to the protection of individual privacy rights and civil liberties. There are many important discussions that have taken place, and will continue to take

  5. Matt,
    Wouldn’t you think that they would have been all over George Burke and/or his client by now and and obtained and released the identity of the man in the video?

  6. Doesn’t the FBI know about micro-chipping? 20 years ago frames of valuable paintings were routinely micro-chipped, just like the pets they were. Were they chipped at the Gardner and MFA?

    I have furniture where a small hole was bored in the bottom of a table leg, chip inserted, hole plugged and capped. Good evidence that it is mine.

    Auction houses and dealers scan furniture for chips. Same with art work in frames.

    Hard to fence valuable stuff nowadays.

    1. Hmmm? is your furniture original Duncan Phyfe or Louis XIV?

      What Matt fails to understand is taxpayer funded FBI agents
      have been working this case 24/7 for 20 years,eh?

      In other news

      see link for full story
      CNN exclusive: FBI misconduct reveals sex, lies and videotape

      CNN Special Investigations Unit
      January 27, 2011

      Washington (CNN) — An FBI employee shared confidential information with his girlfriend, who was a news reporter, then later threatened to release a sex tape the two had made.

      A supervisor watched pornographic videos in his office during work hours while “satisfying himself.”

      And an employee in a “leadership position” misused a government database to check on two friends who were exotic dancers and allowed them into an FBI office after hours.

      These are among confidential summaries of FBI disciplinary reports obtained by CNN, which describe misconduct by agency supervisors, agents and other employees over the last three years

      Read the FBI documents obtained by CNN

      — An employee had “a sexual relationship with a source” over seven months. The punishment was a 40-day suspension.
      — The supervisor who viewed “pornographic movies in the office while sexually satisfying himself” during work hours received a 35-day suspension.
      — The employee in a “leadership position” who misused a “government database to conduct name checks on two friends who were foreign nationals employed as exotic dancers” and “brought the two friends into FBI space after-hours without proper authorization” received a 23-day suspension. The same employee had been previously suspended for misusing a government database.
      — An employee who was drunk “exploited his FBI employment at a strip club,” falsely claiming he was “conducting an official investigation.” His punishment was a 30-day suspension.
      — And an employee conducted “unauthorized searches on FBI databases” for “information on public celebrities the employee thought were ‘hot'” received a 30-day suspension.

      see link for full story

      February 22, 2013
      FBI agents caught sexting and dating drug dealers
      Dating drug dealers, harassing ex-boyfriends with naked pictures, and pointing guns at pet dogs: these were just a few of the offences committed recently by serving FBI agents, according to internal documents.
      The US provided officers from the Egyptian secret police with training at the FBI, despite allegations that they routinely tortured detainees and suppressed political opposition.

      Disciplinary files from the Bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility record an extraordinary range of transgressions that reveal the chaotic personal lives of some of America’s top law enforcers.

      One male agent was sacked after police were called to his mistress’s house following reports of domestic incident. When officers arrived they found the agent “drunk and uncooperative” and eventually had to physically subdue him and wrestle away his loaded gun.

      A woman e-mailed a “nude photograph of herself to her ex-boyfriend’s wife” and then continued to harass the couple despite two warnings from senior officials. The Bureau concluded she was suffering from depression related to the break-up and allowed her to return to work after 10 days.

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