March 19, 2013

"The FBI says it has solved the decades-old mystery of who stole $500m... worth of art from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum..."

"The key goal here is to recover those paintings and bring them back," said US Attorney Carmen Ortiz.
Just after midnight on 18 March 1990, two men posing as police officers pulled off the heist, stealing 13 pieces of art in 81 minutes....

Ortiz said the statute of limitations had expired on crimes associated with the actual theft. She said anyone who knowingly possessed or concealed the stolen art could still face charges, but said prosecutors were willing to discuss potential immunity deals to get the art back....

In the meantime, empty frames hang on the walls of the museum, a reminder of the "enormous loss" and a symbol of hope that they will be recovered, said Ortiz. The stolen paintings include: The Concert by Johannes Vermeer; and three Rembrandts, A Lady and Gentleman in Black, Self-Portrait and Storm on the Sea of Galilee, his only seascape.


I'm glad to hear this art may be returned, but I can't help noting that name: Carmen Ortiz. Here's someone who may be desperate for good publicity after getting trashed earlier this year.

36 comments:

Nomennovum said...

European civilization produced the world's greatest art, architecture, literature, music, science, technology -- pretty much everything worthwhile. But not so much anymore because we have given up.

So, now you have to steal to get the good stuff. Another Nomennovum optimistic prediction: This, too, will get worse.

Civilizational degeneration is one decline you can't hide.

Toby said...

I dunno about this being good PR for Ortiz. Offering immunity to art thieves and rich people who make extravagant black market purchases to me highlights how extreme the Schwartz prosecution was.

chickelit said...

Ortiz is future AG material.

lincolntf said...

My mother made a point of bringing us to the Gardner when we were in Boston one day. Pre-robbery, so it must've been when I was in grade school. Anyway, it's a great museum. You feel like you're walking through someone's house who just happens to be a great art collector. Homey, if a museum holding hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art can be called that.

EDH said...

Toby nails it.

Publicizing that immunity offer to actual thieves is beyond the pale when compared to the treatment of Schwartz.

Immunity offered in infamous art heist
Feds say they know who was involved in theft

Federal authorities are willing to offer immunity to anyone with knowledge of, or involvement in, the 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist that saw two thieves make off with up to $500 million in art work, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said Monday.

Nomennovum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mitchell the Bat said...

Let's find out if waterboarding is as ineffective as some would claim.

Nomennovum said...

I expect anyone stealing Dead White Male art will not get the Aaron Swartz treatment from Senora Ortiz.

virgil xenophon said...

You understand, people, that chickleit is being serious, right? Cause in the age of Obama 'tis sadly all too true..

edutcher said...

If there's tax money in it, you can bet I-am-not-a-Dictator Zero will bring back the Iron Maiden.

Paco Wové said...

Not a very satisfying "solution", really. We don't have the art, we don't know who did it.

Nonapod said...

There probably shouldn't be a statute of limitations on thefts exceeding $100k.

EDH said...

I thought the SOL tolled if you were on the lam.

JAL said...

The Garner Heist is supposed to be a great read about this. Gave it to a family member one year for Christmas ... it came highly recommended.

Yeah, you can buy it through Althouse ...

Chip Ahoy said...

Exactly, Poco, they haven't solved shit.

Aridog said...

EDH said...

I thought the SOL tolled if you were on the lam.

I need more coffee. My first read of "SOL" was "Shit Out of Luck" :)

Aridog said...

Chip Ahoy and Paco Wove' .... thanks, glad I am not the only one who thinks this is publicity BS and nobody as solved anything.

I'm puzzled by the offers of immunity...e.g., for what? As I find it the S.O.L.in Massachusetts for grand theft is: An indictment for any other crime [other than murder] shall be found and filed within 6 years after such crime has been committed. Link.

Initial crime was in 1990. Some lawyer explain to me how any immunity is necessary for anything done before today's date in 2006?

Ann Althouse said...

"I dunno about this being good PR for Ortiz. Offering immunity to art thieves and rich people who make extravagant black market purchases to me highlights how extreme the Schwartz prosecution was."

Yes, but that's just saying her judgment is poor. My suggestion that she's dropping this now because she's desperate for some good PR stands.

Ann Althouse said...

Poor in one matter and then in another.

Ann Althouse said...

"Some lawyer explain to me how any immunity is necessary for anything done before today's date in 2006?"

From the article, it seems that the problem is that there are ongoing crimes entailed in possessing the stolen art. Whoever has these things now is committing a crime. Those are the people Ortiz wants to deal with, because she wants the stuff back. As to who stole it originally: it doesn't matter. They can't be prosecuted unless they're involved in the later crimes.

john said...

I still am puzzled as to the worth of stolen art of this notoriety on the black market or to a private collector. Doesn't seem possible these paintings could be hanging where anyone art-knowledgeable could see them.

If we could just get the Vermeer back. At least it wasn't one of his "Girl with..." paintings; those losses would have been infinite.

AllenS said...

but it is withholding the identities of the thieves

Translation: "I got nuttin."

Lucid said...

Back in high school there was an incident where a newly installed sign, a gift from the senior class, was defaced days after it was put up. The principal announced that the perpetrators were known but they have a chance to turn themselves in for lessened punishment. I doubt in either case do the authorities really know who did the crime.

Aridog said...

Althouse said ...

Whoever has these things now is committing a crime.

Thank you. I thought that was her angle, but wasn't sure possession of stolen property would be a crime if so much time had passed.

Ortiz must think people with enough wealth to buy and secret these works of art are too stupid to not know the first rule of dealing with law enforcement: Do not answer questions not asked.

In other words, if she knows who they are, interrogate them officially. She doesn't so she tries a television "Ben Matlock" ploy that illiterate thugs know better than to fall for...e.g., fess up before you're accused.

In short: Publicity BS for her, nothing more. As others have said...she got nuthin'.

cubanbob said...

Federal authorities are willing to offer immunity to anyone with knowledge of, or involvement in, the 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist that saw two thieves make off with up to $500 million in art work, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said Monday.


But can she grant civil immunity? If not then if the works are recovered the museum could sue the the various fences for a boatload of money.

The thieves must have had some very wealthy individual or group they were working for. No one pulls a heist like this without a client in the wings. Its not like you can take these works and go to pawn shop and unload them.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Lucid: I have a (vaguely) related story. My Junior year in HS, the Senior class drew, in chalk pastels, a large and beautiful version of the school mascot (a falcon) on the central quad. A few days later it was washed away by order of the administration, as unauthorized graffiti.
The uproar was intense, and fairly soon thereafter the drawing was replaced by a permanent tile mosaic version, which is still there today, more than 3 decades later.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Lucid: I have a (vaguely) related story. My Junior year in HS, the Senior class drew, in chalk pastels, a large and beautiful version of the school mascot (a falcon) on the central quad. A few days later it was washed away by order of the administration, as unauthorized graffiti.
The uproar was intense, and fairly soon thereafter the drawing was replaced by a permanent tile mosaic version, which is still there today, more than 3 decades later.

chrisnavin.com said...

Maybe Aaron Swartz took 'em.

David said...

It was a great museum.

Run by irresponsible people.

Like Ortiz, who is scum.

SOJO said...


She's okay with overlooking shady dealings when it's real actual thieves who steal paintings, but someone downloading too many publicly-funded scholarly articles on MIT's free connection gets prosecuted to the max?

Puke. Is this bitch close to retirement at all?

Darrell said...

Banacek offered to come out of retirement at the time. But you have to pay his going rate. See what you get for pinching pennies?

The Godfather said...

You really needed Travis McGee, not Banacek, for something as big as this.

Darrell said...

Ha!
Nothing's too big for Banacek. Nothing. Travis McGee never figured out how they stole the prototype auto from a moving train, did he?

Chuck said...

That Vermeer is magnificent. I'd like to see it in person. For anyone who has seen a Vermeer in person; they are tiny. And as luminescent as jewels.

john said...

You guys are gonna argue Banecek over Travis McGee? That's like arguing Mighty Mouse over Superman.

Jeez.

john said...

You guys are gonna argue Banacek over Travis McGee?
That's like arguing Mighty Mouse over Superman.

Jeez.