This Is a Theft: True Story of the Gardner Museum Heist

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This Is a Robbery: True Story of the Gardner Museum Heist


Netflix’s This Is a Theft, a four-part true-crime documentary, follows the biggest and most confounding artwork heist in historical past: the theft of 13 items on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend in 1990, two males posed as Boston law enforcement officials and robbed the museum, taking $500 million value of paintings. Whereas many leads have come up through the years, none of them ever panned out within the museum’s favor. The work’ standing stays a thriller, and up to date theories have even tied the puzzling heist to the Boston Mafia. Let’s break down probably the most essential particulars of the case to color an image of what occurred that evening.

Within the early hours of March 18, 1990, Richard Abath was working the evening shift as a guard on the Gardner Museum. He noticed two law enforcement officials on the safety digital camera and buzzed them in towards protocol. The lads instructed him that there could also be a warrant for his arrest. However as they handcuffed him, they instructed him, “This can be a theft.” After the pretend law enforcement officials tied up Abath and one other guard, they proceeded to chop out — sure, reduce out from their frames — a number of the museum’s most useful items, together with works by Johannes Vermeer, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and Rembrandt van Rijn. Shockingly, they spent a complete of 81 minutes in the museum, an unusually very long time for a theft. The robbers then dashed off with the security tape and half a billion dollars worth of art.

The docuseries appears to be like at lots of the suggestions that in the end led to useless ends. Abath was instantly an individual of curiosity since individuals suspected an inside job, however this line of investigation did not take off. Regulation enforcement additionally believed that the artwork items might have been used for collateral within the black market, taking a look at ties to the Irish Republican Military and Boston Mafia — This Is a Theft in the end appears to be like into the latter concept the closest, and it will get a hair convoluted. Mobster Bobby Donati apparently wished to get his buddy Vincent Ferrara out of jail by pulling a serious heist. Donati was finally murdered, however reporters did hear a rumor about him buying police officer uniforms in paper luggage earlier than his demise.

Donati was buddies with a person named Bobby Guarente, who additionally had shut ties with a gangster named Carmello Merlino, who organized a crew at his auto store the place the Gardner heist was supposedly planned. One in every of Merlino’s associates, a person named George Reissfelder, match the outline of one of many pretend law enforcement officials and reportedly even had a Manet piece in his residence. In fact, the FBI could not get info quickly sufficient — many in Merlino’s crew died from homicide or pure causes. And even with what they think about a powerful case in regards to the suspects, regulation enforcement might by no means observe down the artwork items.

In the present day, the Gardner Museum is providing a $10 million reward for info main on to the paintings’s restoration. The empty frames stay hanging of their authentic spots on the Gardner, serving as hopeful (if not spooky) symbols for his or her potential return sooner or later.



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