This is robbery: the real-life suspects in the Gardner heist


Gardner’s $ 500 million art heist at This Is A Robbery has yet to be solved after thirty years, but the theft has no shortage of suspects.

Gardner’s art heist shown in the Netflix documentary This is an assault remains unsolved after more than 30 years, but it is not for lack of suspects. Various persons of concern, from professional thieves and con artists to members of organized crime, have been investigated for the theft of $ 500 million art. Despite decades of research, the art has never been recovered and the museum is offering a $ 10 million reward for information leading to the safe return of the art.

In 1990, two men dressed as Boston police tender claimed to be investigating a call at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, prompting the security guard to let them in through locked doors. They handcuffed both security guards in the building on the pretext of arresting them, then announced that it was a robbery and tied up the guards in the basement. They spent 81 minutes in the museum, took 13 works of art and carried out the most successful art heist in the world.

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Composite sketches of the robbers were made from the security guards’ account of the robbery, but there is no solid physical evidence linking the robbery to anyone. The FBI searched for many clues and persons of interest, but so far, it has not brought them closer to recovering the art. Over the years, there have been many theories about who committed the robbery and who planned the crime. In 2013, the FBI announced that it knew the identities of the thieves and that they were dead, but refused to reveal those identities, and the determination of the identity of the thieves did not lead to the recovery of the art. The investigation is still ongoing with numerous new and old theories about the suspects.

Whitey bulger

Whitey bulger

James “Whitey” Bulger was a powerful organized crime boss and FBI informant, and was one of the first suspects in the robbery. Bulger, an Irish mobster, was involved with the Irish Republican Army. The IRA had been involved in a series of art thefts to finance its paramilitary efforts in Northern Ireland, as even stolen paintings could become collateral in underworld trade deals. One theory speculated that Bulger used his ties to the Boston Police to carry out the daring heist to aid the IRA, obtaining actual police uniforms for the robbers. There is no clear evidence linking Bulger to the theft, but some investigators believe the art is now in Ireland after Bulger turned it over to the IRA.

The Merlino gang

Participation of the Merlino gang in the Gardner robbery

As the investigation progressed, the FBI turned its attention to the Merlino gang, a Boston mob crime family filled with several of the most likely suspects. Undisclosed sources in the investigation believed that the thieves identified by the FBI were George Reissfelder and Leonard DiMuzio, both involved in the Merlino gang and both perished shortly after the 1991 robbery. DiMuzio was murdered and Reissfelder died of a cocaine overdose.

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Merlino Associates Robert Guarente and Robert Gentile were also involved in the theft and possibly had possession of the paintings at some point. Guarantee’s widow told the FBI that her husband owned the paintings and gave them to Gentile. Gentile’s house was searched to no avail, and he never revealed any information about the paintings.

Carmello Merlino himself was arrested for attempting to rob an armored vehicle depot in 1999, but did not produce the artwork despite offers of leniency in his sentence for it to be returned safely. He died in prison in 2005.

David turner

Gardner Heist Suspects

David Turner, another Merlino associate, has a complicated web of possible implications with the heist and the series of murders that followed. Two witnesses indicated that Turner looked more like one of the robbers they saw that night. He was also questioned or suspected in the murders of other suspects in the Gardner heist, such as Leonard DiMuzio and Bobby Donati. Turner was arrested in 1999 and sentenced to a long term in prison. Revealing the location of the artwork could have lowered his sentence, but it didn’t reveal anything.

Bobby donati

Bobby donati

Bobby Donati was a Boston mob associate who worked with the notorious art thief Myles Connor. Connor was in jail at the time of the robbery, but had previously returned the stolen art to reduce his prison sentences. Investigators believed Donati may have followed Connor’s lead and plotted Gardner’s robbery to trade for the release of mobster Vincent Ferrara. However, Donati was kidnapped and murdered in 1991, and the murder case has yet to be solved.

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Security Guard Rick Abath

Gardner Security Guard Rick Abath

Rick Abath was the security guard at the Gardner museum who allowed thieves in locked doors to steal his valuable treasures, and he came under suspicion for his possible role in the robbery. He opened one of the exterior doors before the robbery, which some investigators thought could be a signal for thieves.

Most of the artwork was stolen from the Dutch Room and Brief Gallery on the second floor, but Manet’s In Tortoni It was the only painting taken from the Blue Room on the first floor. The museum’s motion detectors did not show thieves entering that room during the robbery, and the last movement detected in the Blue Room was Abath making his rounds. No clear evidence implicated it, but there were enough questions to suspect an inside job.

Scammer Brian McDevitt

Brian McDevitt

Scammer and screenwriter Brian McDevitt were suspects in the robbery because of their involvement in similar crimes. In 1981, he made a failed attempt to steal a Rembrandt’s Hyde Collection while dressed as a FedEx driver. The parallels were enough to point to the FBI, but McDevitt denied involvement. This is an assault It has no shortage of suspects to explore, but Gardner’s art heist remains unsolved, and the $ 500 million score is likely still hidden somewhere in the world.

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