Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist

By Stephen Kurkjian

The definitive tale of the best artwork robbery in history.

In a mystery assembly in 1981, a low-level Boston thief gave profession gangster Ralph Rossetti the top of a life-time: the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum used to be an immense rating ready to take place. although its collections incorporated invaluable artistic endeavors via Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and others, its safety was once reasonable, mismanaged, and old-fashioned. And now, it appeared, the complete Boston felony underworld knew it.

Nearly a decade handed sooner than the Museum museum was once ultimately hit. but if it eventually occurred, the robbery quick grew to become some of the most notorious paintings heists in historical past: 13 artistic endeavors worth as much as $500 million, through one of the most well-known artists on the planet, have been taken. The Boston FBI took regulate of the research, yet twenty-five years later the case continues to be unsolved and the art continues to be missing.

Stephen Kurkjian, one of many best investigative journalists within the state, has been operating this example for over approximately two decades. In Master Thieves, he sheds new gentle on a number of the Gardner’s such a lot abiding mysteries. Why could anyone scouse borrow those work, in basic terms to go away them hidden for twenty-five years? And why, if one of many most sensible crime bosses within the urban knew approximately this rating in 1981, did the robbery take place in 1990? What occurred in these intervening years? And what may all this need to do with Boston’s infamous gang wars of the 1980s?

Kurkjian’s reporting is already liable for many of the largest breaks during this tale, together with a meticulous reconstruction of what occurred on the Museum museum that fateful evening. Now grasp Thieves will display the identities of these he believes plotted the heist, the rationale for the crime, and the main points that the FBI has refused to debate. Taking you on a trip deep into the gangs of Boston, Kurkjian emerges with the main entire and compelling model of this tale ever told.

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I’m now not too yes both knew what the opposite used to be saying,” Cowley remembered later. “The titanic man had a fantastic British accessory, yet I did pay attention him shouting approximately getting his museum’s work again. however it was once Mr. Martignette’s condo, so I ordered the massive fellow to depart, and we might straighten it out on the police station. ” a number of days later, Cowley suggestion he had it looked after out after interviewing Martignette, Nichols, and Rocky. “Nichols was once telling the museum’s investigator anything that he had no proof of: that Martignette had anything to do with those stolen work and they had gotten in some way to Belize.

Yet Turner used to be no longer performed with the courts. He spent the subsequent 5 years attractive to both have his conviction overturned or be granted a brand new trial. His imperative argument was once nonetheless that the govt had entrapped him into becoming a member of the theft scheme to strength him to supply info at the lacking Gardner work. The appeals courtroom upheld his conviction and denied his request for a brand new trial in August 2007. In its twenty-seven-page opinion, the courtroom came across that his past convictions concerning guns ownership and theft, in 1989 and 1990, and his deep ties to Merlino solid a shadow on his declare he used to be a complete blameless to the theft scheme.

It used to be Youngworth. Mashberg used to be startled while Youngworth got here correct out and acknowledged what he’d been hinting at for a while: that he had facts that, if sure stipulations have been met, he may well facilitate the go back of the Gardner work to the museum. “What are you doing this night? ” Youngworth requested him. “Putting out the paper. They referred to as me in on my day without work as the different man is on vacation,” Mashberg replied, reminding Youngworth that as Sunday editor he was once frequently off Sundays and Mondays. “Forget that,” Youngworth scoffed.

He compensated by means of being dependable to the cohorts he spent his lifestyles in crime with, particularly the individuals of the East Boston gang he joined within the mid-1970s after jogging clear of a minimumsecurity facility in Boston’s Mattapan local. He used to be regularly doing favors for them, it appeared: turning over the main points of armored vehicles and banks he’d cased and fi gured have been prone to being robbed or accepting culpability for against the law so one other gang member may perhaps circumvent prosecution. Or handing over stolen art so the crowd chief may possibly remain out of penitentiary.

Stories speedy unfold one of the trustees that the thief who had died had suffered a drug overdose quickly after the robbery. the single in reformatory used to be truly additionally regarded as useless, killed via contributors of the mid-Atlantic mob of which he used to be a low-level member. Little was once identified of the 3rd person, the one that used to be nonetheless at the streets, other than that he had masterminded the robbery. within the resulting years, the thief who died of a drug overdose has been rumored to be George Reissfelder, a low-level hood who’d migrated into Merlino’s gang within the Eighties after being published from prison—with assistance from felony illustration by way of John F.

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