Mar 18, 2013 / 9:44 pm
The FBI says it has solved the decades-old mystery of who stole $500 million in artwork from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, but it is withholding the identities of the thieves, adding another twist to the largest property heist in U.S. history.
On Monday, the 23rd anniversary of the theft, authorities announced a new publicity campaign aimed at generating tips on what they still don't know: Where is the missing artwork? Their focus has shifted from catching the thieves to bringing home the precious artwork, including paintings by Rembrandt, Manet, Degas and Vermeer.
"The key goal here is to recover those paintings and bring them back," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said at a news conference at the FBI's Boston headquarters.
Just after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men posing as police officers pulled off the heist, stealing 13 pieces of artwork in 81 minutes.
For more than two decades, the FBI has chased leads around the globe, finally making progress over the last few years so that they now believe they know the identity of the thieves.
The FBI's Richard DesLauriers says the agency believes the thieves belonged to a criminal organization based in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. He said authorities believe the art was taken to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region in the years after the theft, and offered for sale in Philadelphia about a decade ago.
After the attempted sale, the FBI does not know what happened to the artwork, DesLauriers said.
DesLauriers repeatedly rebuffed questions from reporters on the identities of the thieves, saying releasing their identities could hamper the continuing investigation. He refused to say whether the thieves are now in prison on other charges, and would not say whether they are dead or alive.
The FBI said it is re-emphasizing a $5 million reward being offered by the museum for information that leads directly to the recovery of the art.
Read more World News
- Tiger gets hairball surgery
- Stockholm riots continue
- UK attack could be terrorists
- Captors release 7
- FBI kill man in Orlando
- Trial set for Costa Concordia captain
- Climbers aged 80 & 81 race up Everest
- Search for tornado survivors nears end
- Race on to find tornado survivors
- Suicide in Notre Dame Cathedral
- 14 Afghan police killed in day of attacks
- Tornado death toll now at 24
(Click for RSS instructions.)