Looking for a $10 million payout?  Solve this art heist |  by Ashkan Modabber |  July 2022

Looking for a $10 million payout? Solve this art heist | by Ashkan Modabber | July 2022 | Pro Club Bd

Thirteen priceless works of art were stolen. Thirty-two years later, the case is still unsolved and is still under active and ongoing investigation.

Re-enactment of one of the thieves who stole what is probably the most valuable painting in the raid, Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of ​​Galilee (c. 1633). image source

TThe largest art theft in the world took place in the early hours of March 18, 1990 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. While a small amount of artwork was stolen compared to the fifteen thousand artworks the museum houses, the total of thirteen artworks is worth over a staggering $500 million. Not a bad deal for the two thieves considering the robbery only lasted eighty-one minutes. After that, try to go back to your minimum wage job.

Imagine for a second that you are the owner of a museum that exhibits hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars worth of art. You want the best surveillance money can buy, along with an impressive and virtually unstoppable security team. Right?

Here at the Isabella Stewart Garder Museum in Boston, we use outdated surveillance systems and hire only inexperienced, subpar musicians to serve as our security guards. May I mention that we only have two security guards on duty during the night shift… I wish I was kidding.

Two men dressed as police officers are buzzed into the museum (violating security protocol) and the historic heist ensues. If the security guard hadn’t pressed the button that gave the thieves access to the museum, the robbery would never have happened.

I guess you could say this button is worth half a billion dollars.

A sketch of the two suspects
Do you recognize these two? This is a sketch of the two suspects in their police costumes. image source

Works by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Édouard Manet, among others, were stolen. While it may seem unlikely, none of the artwork was recovered or returned to the museum. Prominent pieces include:

The concert by Johannes Vermeer
The Concerto by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1664). image source
A Lady and Gentleman in Black by Rembrandt (c.1633)
A Lady and Gentleman in Black by Rembrandt (c.1633). Image provided by the author – Manufactured in canvas
Chez Tortoni by Édouard Manet (circa 1875)
Chez Tortoni by Édouard Manet (circa 1875). Image provided by the author – Manufactured in canvas

While the above parts are extremely valuable, many are intrigued by the thieves’ loot selection. There were works by Michelangelo and Titian in the museum which are of far greater value. It is here that some speculate that not only was this a robbery of the ancient art to take whatever they could get their hands on, but there were specific pieces that the robbers were after. Could they have been hired to pull off the heist? Like many details and questions about this case, this one also remains unclear.

Beyond your wildest dreams, you somehow managed to pull off the heist, great. What now? You can’t just take a picture and put the paintings up on eBay. Criminals have a more intriguing and strategic use for them, let me explain.

If a work of art is important enough, the information leading to its successful return is essentially a ticket to get out of prison. Now do you see how valuable stolen art is as currency in the criminal world?

The stolen artworks related to this heist are said to have originally been in the hands of the Boston Mafia, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. At the time of writing, no arrests have been made in connection with the raid. One thing is almost certain, the pictures are no longer together. The task of finding them all becomes more strenuous. Although there have been many leads in this investigation, they have either been proven wrong or have hit a dead end.

Should we finally say goodbye and abandon all hope that these masterpieces will return safely to the museum? Absolutely not.

As I mentioned, this is still an ongoing investigation. Other masterpieces by Leonardo Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Pablo Picasso were all stolen and eventually recovered. Why give up hope now?

Art has a tremendous impact and role in society. Its presence can be seen throughout pop culture and in our own lives. It represents the story. To be perfectly honest, it’s our story. Remnants of the past forever captured on stone, wood and canvas for all to enjoy.

Art is human history. Even if the human species as a whole ceases to exist, it will remain so. I ask you to remember my words the next time you find yourself in an art museum. It’s really a beautiful and fulfilling thing.

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