The holy grail of art crime



The heist of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is something like the holy grail of art crime — and remains so even 28 years after it happened. In a little under an hour and a half, two thieves stole 13 irreplaceable artworks from the Boston institution.


In the early hours of March 18, 1990, the city of Boston was still celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Two thieves dressed up in police uniforms and, at 1:24 a.m., simply rang the bell. The night security guard on duty, Rick Abath, let the two men in the Palace Road entrance. Abath called the second security guard on duty that night, Randy, back down to the desk. (Randy spoke to us on the condition that we only use his first name.) Then the would-be police officers handcuffed the two guards, and tied them up in the basement of the museum.


“It was overwhelming to see what had been done. I mean to trash a museum like that. It was just like the barbarians had been through. I mean, to pull frames off the wall and shatter the glass, it was clearly not people that loved art that did that. I mean, cutting paintings out of frames. I mean, it’s unspeakable.”

Read the article, then watch the video. Fascinating.

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