Biggest Heist of all time:500 Million dollar Art heist at Isbella Stewart Gardner museum

Karthick Nambi
6 min readOct 4, 2018
Vermeer’s painting “The Concert,” which was stolen from the Gardner in 1990

On March 18, 1990, 13 masterpieces were stolen from Boston’s Isbella Stewart Gardner museum in USA a theft that became not only the country’s largest property crime but the world’s most lucrative art heist. Among the pieces that went missing were three Rembrandt, sketches by Degas, and a Vermeer that together were valued at over $500 million.

The FBI apparently solved the case-in 2013 they said they had figured out who the thieves were, though they never released the names since the statue of limitations had passed — but authorities never recovered the art works themselves. They believe they have one remaining informant who may be able to help them find the paintings: Robert Gentile, 81, who is currently being charged in Massachusetts for unrelated crimes.

Gentile was sentenced on Tuesday, February 27th, to four and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to illegally selling guns to a convicted murderer. His lawyer claimed the sale was set up as a sting operation by the FBI in order to obtain information regarding the Isabella Stewart Gardner heist. Gentile has repeatedly denied knowing the whereabouts of the paintings, even though a covert FBI recording has him offering an agent at least two of the paintings for $500,000 each. he judge sentenced 81-year-old Gentile ruling,

“You don’t really accept responsibility. This is who you are. This is the life you lived.”

He was recently found competent during a psychiatric exam said his lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan according to the Boston Herald.A judge ordered the review because Gentile said at his sentencing hearing that he could not remember pleading guilty.


One of the FBI’s leading theories held the mafia responsible, naming in particular a mobster named Bobby Donati. Donati was murdered shortly after the heist; Gentile was his associate.

Over the years there have been no shortages of rumors about the whereabouts of the Gardner trove. One theory put them in Philadelphia in the early 2000's; another in Ireland in the hands of the Irish…