Twenty-four years after two men impersonating law enforcement boosted 13 masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the FBI confirms that the artwork has been seen and that the persons of interest in the case all have ties to organized crime.
The artwork, valued at $500 million, included pieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Manet. FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly told WFXT that there has been three main suspects in the case: Carmello Merlino, Robert Guarente, and Robert Gentile.
Merlino and Guarente have since died, but Gentile remains a suspect, the FBI says:
Kelly said in the late 1990's, two FBI informants told the Bureau that Merlino was preparing to return Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea of Galilee, in an effort to collect the reward. However, Merlino and his crew were soon arrested in an aborted armored car heist and the painting was never returned.
Kelly believes Guarente somehow passed control of the stolen Gardner artwork to Gentile, a Manchester, Conn. man. Kelly believes Gentile has ties to organized crime in Philadelphia, PA and that Gentile helped bring some or all of the stolen Gardner artwork to Philadelphia where it was last seen in 2000, offered for sale.
In 2012 Gentile's home and property in Manchester, Conn. were extensively searched but no sign of the stolen Gardner artwork was located. However, Kelly said authorities recovered police paraphernalia, including "clothing, articles of clothing with police and FBI insignias on it, handcuffs, a scanner, two way radios, and Tasers" and these are not common items.
Gentile's lawyer denies having any involvement with the heist.
[Image via AP]