90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Gardner Heist and Stolen Art

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait, ca. 1634, one of the works stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990. (Image: www.gardnermuseum.org; click for full size.)

Post your comments below

The biggest museum art theft in history happened twenty years ago next month — half a billion dollars worth of art stolen in the middle of the night from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston by thieves dressed as police officers.

Guards handcuffed and bound with duct tape. Paintings — of Rembrandt, Degas, Vermeer — grabbed from frames and whisked into the night.

They’ve never been recovered.

Global art theft is big business. So where are these paintings? The museum is still on the trail. We’ll ask what they know.

This hour, On Point: we’re chasing down the biggest art heist in history.

Guests:

Anne Hawley, director of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum since 1989.

Anthony Amore, director of security for the Gardner Museum. He joined the Gardner in 2005 and is responsible for recovering the 13 works of art stolen from the museum two decades ago. Before joining the Gardner he worked at the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Security Division.

Robert Wittman, former senior investigator and founder of the FBI’s National Art Crime Team. He spent 20 years with the FBI, and recovered $225 million worth of stolen art and cultural property. He now runs the art recovery and protection firm, Robert Wittman Inc. His forthcoming book is “Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures.”

See a photo gallery of the artworks stolen from the Gardner Museum in 1990.

The Art Loss Register allows you to check a global registry of lost or stolen art.

Host Tom Ashbrook and On Point producers toured the Gardner on Tuesday with security director Anthony Amore.

Anthony Amore, the director of security for the Gardner Museum, gives On Point host Tom Ashbrook a tour of the basement where guards were handcuffed by thieves on March 18, 1990. (Photo: WBUR)

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 1, 2014
Pro-democracy protesters hold umbrellas under heavy rain in a main street near the government headquarters in Hong Kong late Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The protesters demanded that Hong Kong's top leader meet with them on Tuesday and threatened wider actions if he did not, after he said China would not budge in its decision to limit voting reforms in the Asian financial hub. (AP)

China, democracy and Hong Kong. They’re in the streets in Hong Kong with their “Umbrella Revolution.” What now?

Oct 1, 2014
Actress Eva Longoria, center, Henry R. Munoz III, co-founder of the Latino Victory Project, left, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, are seated at an event launching The Latino Victory Project, a Latino political action committee, at the National Press Club in Washington, Monday, May 5, 2014. (AP)

Latino America. It is very large and growing very fast. How will it move the country?

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 30, 2014
In this Jan. 15, 2013, photo, Rosser Pryor, Co-owner and President of Factory Automation Systems, examines a new high-performance industrial robot at the company's Atlanta facility.  (AP)

Nicholas Carr says automation, all over, is turning us into zombies. Out of touch with the world. He’s with us.

 
Sep 30, 2014
St. Louis county police officers advance on protestors trying to shut down Interstate 70 in Berkeley, Mo. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 near the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. where Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year old was shot and killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9. (AP)

Police shootings, cop culture, body cameras. And the big debate over how to protect the public and the police.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Transcript: Peter Thiel Wants Us All To Go From ‘Zero To One’
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel on innovation, technological failure and humanity’s uncertain future.

More »
Comment
 
Transcript: Sexual Violence Under ISIS Control
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

A transcript from our September 25, 2014 conversation on the Islamic State and sexual violence.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: September 26, 2014
Friday, Sep 26, 2014

All of you love to listen to old broadcasts when we play them, and Taylor Swift loves the Internet.

More »
Comment