In recent art world news, the Board of Directors of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has voted to extend the $10 million reward for information leading to the return of 13 art works (valued at half a billion dollars) that were stolen nearly 30 years ago. The reward was to have reverted to $5 million at the end of last year had it not been for the Board’s recent vote. The extension of the reward was done in the “hope of enticing tips that would help recover works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, Manet and others that were stolen in the world’s largest unsolved art heist.”
The theft occurred just after midnight on March 18, 1990 when two thieves appearing as Boston police officers deceived museum guards in gaining access to the building, restrained the guards, and then left nearly an hour and a half later with the valuable art works.
While there have been multiple suspects throughout the years and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has said in 2013 that agents had determined who the thieves were (but did not reveal their names), and added that the thieves were no longer living, the statute of limitations has run out on the theft in 1995, but the investigation is ongoing.
Isabella Stewart Gardner, the woman for whom the museum is named, was a leading American art collector, art patron, and philanthropist, who passed away in 1924. Gardner had stipulated in her will that “the vast art collection in her home, modeled on a 15th-century Venetian palace, remain on permanent display exactly as she left it. Nowadays empty gilded frames that held some of the works that were taken in 1990 still hang on the walls.”