The greatest art heist in American history took place exactly 23 years ago today, when two men dressed like cops gained access to Boston's gorgeously ornate Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, bound and gagged the night security guards, and made off with 13 artworks, including 17th century oil paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer. In total, the stolen goods were valued around $500 million, which is quite a lot of wealth to walk away with in 81 minutes.
But today, on the legendary crime's anniversary, FBI officials held a press conference in Boston saying they'd identified the thieves, but that making that information public would be "imprudent" in the final stages of their investigation. So they know a lot of things, they swear, but they just won't tell you.
"The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence in the years after the theft the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft. With that confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England," Richard Deslauriers, the special agent in charge of the Boston office of the FBI, said.
"Today marks 23 years since the robbery. It's time for these paintings to come home," said Anthony Amore, chief of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, hoping that the canvases would hear his heartfelt plea and get on the first Greyhound back to Boston.