FBI says it has identified Gardner museum art thieves
BOSTON (AFP) – The FBI said on Monday that they finally know who conducted a daring art heist in Boston exactly 23 years ago — but the thieves can no longer be prosecuted.
For two decades the 1990 theft of 13 works of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, including rare paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer, has been one of America’s greatest unsolved crimes. Now, says the FBI’s Boston chief Richard DesLauriers, agents “confirmed the identity of those who entered the museum and others associated with the theft.”
In a press conference, he touted “significant investigative progress.”
But there are two big hitches.
First, the thieves who hit the museum dressed as Boston police officers essentially got away with it — because the robbery “occurred 23 years ago, the statute of limitations has run,” US Attorney Carmen Ortiz told reporters.
The prosecutor said the only likely prosecutions were over “criminal liability for anyone in possession.”
In addition, the FBI still doesn’t know where the masterpieces are hidden.
DesLauriers said it was clear now for the first time that the art had been stolen by “a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England” and about a decade ago was brought, in part, to Philadelphia.
“We do not know where the art is currently located,” he said, describing the paintings’ fate as having been “secreted, unseen and unappreciated.”
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