FBI Submits Evidence in Historical 1990 Boston Art Heist for DNA Analysis

One of the Rembrandt Pieces Stolen
One of the Rembrandt Pieces Stolen
By Allan Lengel

Advances in DNA testing aren’t just being used to solve murders and rapes.

The FBI is hoping to take advantage of the new advances by submitting evidence from the great art heist 20 years ago at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston which included three Rembrandts and a Vermeer, the Boston Globe reports. It is believed to be the largest heist in world history in terms of dollars.

The FBI on the case declined to say what had been submitted for analysis, but the Globe reported that people familiar with the case “said it would probably include long strips of duct tape used to tie up the museum’s two night watchmen, whom the thieves overpowered to get access to the artwork.”

“If they left any sweat on that duct tape, a sample could be drawn, and with that sample there’s the possibility of a result,” Dr. Bruce Budowle, former senior scientist of the FBI’s Quantico lab told the Globe.

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Here’s the FBI’s description of the crime.

“On March 18, 1990, the Gardner Museum was robbed by two unknown white males dressed in police uniforms and identifying themselves a Boston police officers. The unknown subjects gained entrance into the museum by advising on-duty security personnel that they were responding to a call of a disturbance within the compound. Security, contrary to museum regulations, allowed the unknown subjects into the facility.”

“Upon gaining entry, the two unknown subjects abducted the on duty security personnel, securing both guards with duct tape and handcuffs in separate remote areas of the museum’s basement. The unknown subjects brandished no weapons, nor were any weapons seen during this heist. Other than a “panic” button located behind the guards’ watch desk area, the museum alarm system was internally only. Since the panic button was not activated, no actual police notification was made during the robbery. The video surveillance film was seized by the unknown subjects prior to their departure.”

“While in the museum from the hours of 1:24 a.m. to 2:45 a.m., the unknown subjects seized the following works of art, the values of which have been estimated as high as 300 million dollars.”

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