23 Years Later, The FBI Is Still Trying To Solve The Largest Art Heist Of All Time

Photo: via FBI.gov

The FBI is once again ramping up its effort to solve the largest art theft in history, a 23-year-old case in which $500 million worth of paintings and sculptures were stolen from a Boston art museum.The agency will share the latest developments in the case at a press conference this afternoon, and launch a publicity campaign aimed at uncovering the 13 missing works, for which the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum is offering a $5 million reward.

Investigators have said they hope to crack the case by using tactics like those used to capture notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, who was eventually caught after authorities publicized the case using billboards, TV commercials, and other ads, according to the Associated Press.

As art thefts go, the 1990 heist at Boston’s Gardner Museum was one of the most brazen in history. Click through to see the missing works and read how it went down.

The theft took place in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990 – 23 years ago today.

Vermeer, The Concert

Source: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

It took place at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Saint Patrick's Day, a Sunday, when much of the city was preoccupied.

Rembrandt, A Lady and Gentleman in Black

Source: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

A pair of thieves posing as Boston police officers showed up at the museum and said they were responding to a call.

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait

Source: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Although it was against protocol, the guard on duty allowed the thieves to enter through the museum's security door.

Govaert Flinck, Landscape with Obelisk

Source: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The thieves then claimed they had a warrant for the guard's arrest, and proceeded to handcuff him and another guard who had been summoned.

Manet, Chez Tortoni

Source: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The guards were taken to the basement, where they were cuffed to pipes and had their hands, feet, and heads duct taped.

It was not until the next morning that a security guard arriving for duty discovered that the museum had been robbed and notified police.

The stolen art works have been valued at $500 million. They include works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas.

Several empty frames remain in the museum today, awaiting the return of the stolen paintings. Some were cut directly from their frames,

The museum is offering a $5 million reward for the stolen works, if they are returned in good condition.

Authorities hope that by publicizing the works in a new campaign, they may resurface.

The agency is launching a new website and campaign to inform the public about the stolen works today.

Rembrandt, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

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