Theft at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.
By Steve Neavling
Retired FBI agent and supervisor Tom Casson will never forget when he began investigating the notorious Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery in March 1990, when thieves swiped artwork valued at up to a half-million dollars.
“Two individuals dressed as Boston police officers knocked on the side door of the museum, and at the time, there were two security personnel,” Casson told 22 News WWLP. “They were part-time students who had nothing else to do at night, so they took a job at the museum.
“There were millions and millions of dollars’ worth of paintings and these two guys were the only ones who were charged with preventing what had happened to happen. They admitted what they thought were the two Boston police officers and were told there was a problem in the courtyard that they had to investigate.”
But they weren’t police officers and tied up the two security guards. They stole works by Degas, Flinck and Manet.
“Depending on who you ask, the value of the stuff taken was anywhere from $200 million to $500 million,” Cassano said. “As of the time I left (in 2001), they knew no more than they did the day it happened. We are not sure how many (suspects) there were. We know there were at least two. These two guards were put down in the basement so nobody kept track of what was happening. We know how they came in, but we don’t know how they got out.”
Casino said his office worked full-time on the case with more than 15 agents. The FBI also offered a $5 million reward for the capture of the thieves.
“Every prisoner who was incarcerated at the time knew that this was a ‘get out of jail free’ card if they could come up with these bandits,” Cassano said. “I don’t know how many calls we got. We had hundreds and hundreds of leads and none of them panned out to this day, as far as I know.”