Officials said at a Boston news conference they would not release the names of the individuals who masqueraded as police officers to gain entry in the early-morning robbery at the Gardner exactly 23 years ago.
DesLauriers said that because the investigation is continuing it would be “imprudent” to disclose their names or the name of the criminal organization. He said the probe was in its “final chapter.”
Ortiz said the statute of limitations had run out for the people who actually robbed the museum. She said there was also the possibility that prosecutors could grant immunity from prosecution to people who might be subject to other charges, such as charges of possessing the stolen paintings.
“That is a very strong possibility, but I cannot give blanket immunity without knowing the specifics,” he said.
Since everyone knows the paintings are stolen, it’s impossible to sell them at auction. How do thieves profit from a high-profile art heist?
The black market. Most stolen art work goes underground. The thief sells his haul to an unscrupulous art dealer, who usually sells it on to a private collector who keeps it for a while. After several years and many subsequent underground transactions, relatively obscure pieces can be sold in the open, especially through small auction houses that don’t specialize in art. Even after a generation, however, it will be very difficult to bring a stolen Picasso or a Monet back to auction.
Thieves offer paintings by the masters at incredible discounts. According to Joshua Knelman’s book Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art, a stolen painting usually goes for around 10 percent of its legitimate auction value in the first sale between criminal and shady dealer. The price is low because both parties are at risk.
It is as if the missing stash—now valued as high as $500 million— simply vanished into the chilly Boston night, swallowed up in the shadowy world of stolen art.
That world, peopled by small-time crooks, big-time gangsters, unscrupulous art dealers, convicted felons, money launderers, drug merchants, gunrunners and organized criminals, contributes to an underground market of an estimated $4 billion to $6 billion a year. While the trade in stolen art does not rival the black market in drugs and guns, it has become a significant part of the illicit global economy.
In 2002, after a two-year master planning process, the museum’s board of trustees determined that a new wing was necessary to preserve the historic building and to provide improved spaces for programs that continue Isabella Gardner’s legacy.
... In March 2009, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts approved the museum’s plans, confirming that the project is consistent with the primary purpose of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s will and is in the public interest. The project also received approval from all relevant city and state preservation and development review agencies.
Mr. Amore, a former Homeland Security official who helped overhaul security at Logan International Airport here after the Sept. 11 attacks, said he has built a database of every lead that has come in since the theft. (Security at the Gardner is now “a step over” the standard for museums, he added.) He said he gets frequent tips ... *
Gungho: Um, no they haven't. They haven't publicly identified anyone. They haven't publicly placed even the temporary location of any of the artworks. So this is a no news news event.
Gungho: How can you identify someone without naming them? I mean why go to all the trouble of a press conference to say "I know something you don't know"? Incidentally, when quizzed after the press conference the head of the Gardiner Museum security wouldn't even say if the suspects were dead or alive as he felt that information could compromise the investigation.
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