Monday, May 30, 2011

The Gardner Heist Inspired Renewed Coverage of the MMFA Theft

In 2009, journalist Ulrich Boser published The Gardner Heist, The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft, of the 1990 theft of a dozen paintings in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In his 11th chapter titled "Program for An Artistic Soiree II", Boser writes about the MMFA theft:
After a Rembrandt, a Delacroix, and a Gainsborough were stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, a group of criminals tried to ransom the paintings back. The gang wanted $250,000 and returned one of the works, a Brueghel, to prove that they had access to the loot. But when the day of the buyback arrived, one of the thieves saw a police car and called off the deal. The paintings have never been seen by the public again.
I emailed Ulrich Boser and asked him if he had any more information but he did not, although he was interested in the subject. After poking around the subject for a few months, I emailed him again because I couldn't find anything substantive on the theft. He emailed me a link to an article written by Bill Bantey on the 35th anniversary of the MMFA theft. Mr. Bantey had been a journalist on politics and crime for decades in Montreal and he had also, coincidentally, been the director of public relations for the MMFA at the time of the theft. Mr. Bantey later told me that he was also the highest ranking museum official that Labor Day weekend and the first museum administrator to be called by the security guard after the robbery.

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