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Has the biggest art heist in US history been solved FBI says they've ID'd infamous thieves who stole half a BILLION dollars of art from Boston's Gardner Museum
Artwork famously stolen from museum in 1990 by men dressed as Boston police officers on St Patrick's Day
Took paintings and sketches from masters like Manet, Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer; in all, 13 works stolen
FBI announced 23 years to the day that they had identified the thieves but did not publicly name them
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Irreplaceable: Chez Tortoni, painted by Manet, shows a man wearing a top hat at a jaunty angle; it was one of the last paintings to be stolen from the museum
Dutch Master: The thieves stole two Rembrandts – 'The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,' left, believed to be the only seascape the master painted, and 'A Lady and Gentleman in Black,' right
In progress: Left, Degas' Three Mounted Jockeys, and right, a self-portrait of Rembrandt
Most valuable: Jan Vermeer's The Concert is one of approximately 35 known works by the great Dutch painter
During the 1990 robbery, thieves
disguised as police officers struck as Boston finished celebrating St.
Patrick's Day, binding two guards, before stealing masterworks by
Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet.
While the FBI has had several promising leads in the 23 years following the heist, no one was ever charged with stealing the works.
According to an FBI release sent out today, investigators believe that the original thieves transported the stolen art to parts of Connecticut and Philadelphia.
‘Some of the art was taken to Philadelphia, where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft,’ DesLauriers said in a statement.
‘With that same confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the Mid-Atlantic states and New England.’
At a loss: Left, a visitor looks at the empty frame from a Rembrandt work, and right, the museum in 1990 following the heist, the empty frame of Rembrandt's oil painting 'A Lady and Gentleman in Black' lies on the floor and a space on the wall remains bare where his 'The Storm on the Sea of Galilee' once hung
Landscape: Govaert Flinck's 'Landscape with an Obelisk,' painted in 1638, was originally attributed to Rembrandt, but was later found to be the work of his assistant, Flinck
Heist of the century: The thieves also made off with Degas' 'La Sortie du Pelage,' a watercolor and pencil sketch
Black and white: Two Degas sketches from 1884, entitled 'Program for an Artistic Soire'
Monochrome: Degas' 'Cortge aux Environs de Florence'
Proud: This bronze eagle-shaped finial from c. 1813 originally sat on the top of the pole support of a silk Napoleonic flag in the Short Gallery; the thieves likely thought it was gold
The FBI said that following an attempted sale of one of the works more than a decade ago, they could only piece together small bits of information on the whereabouts of the masterpieces – and the thieves.
Because of the high-profile nature of the case, the government agency released as much information about the heist as they could, in hopes that someone would flag a suspicious art purchase.
They also continue to highlight the $5 million, no-questions-asked reward.
Announcement: Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI's Boston Field Office Richard Des Lauriers, center, along with United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz, left, and Boston FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly, right announce investigative developments today
Public matter: The FBI has actively offered a $5million reward to anyone who had information that led to the painting's safe return to the museum
Anthony Amore, who is the Gardner museum’s chief of security, said that anyone could claim the reward, even if they did not have the paintings. ‘We hope that through this media campaign, people will see how earnest we are in our attempts to pay this reward and make our institution whole,’ he said in a statement.
When the thieves, disguised as two security officers, sneaked into the Boston institution, they cut some of the works of art right out of the frames.
The empty frames continue to be hung in the museum as a constant physical reminder of the heist and the missing masterpieces.
The thieves, once publically identified, will be prosecuted by a special FBI department, the Art Crime Team, which is comprised of 14 special agents.
The team of agents, along with trial lawyers, investigates art theft, fraud, and lootings in both national and international scope.
Police line: A security guard, pictured on March 21, 1990, stands outside the Dutch Room of the Gardner Museum where robbers stole more than a dozen works of art by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, Manet and others, in an early morning robbery