FBI has confirmed sightings of Gardner artwork after heist - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

FBI has confirmed sightings of Gardner artwork after heist

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BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Twenty four years ago, two men disguised as law enforcement officers talked their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, subdued the Museum's security guards, disabled the Museum's security system, and stole 13 irreplaceable works of art. And this case has not grown cold.

The story of the Gardner heist remains Boston's last Great Unsolved Crime. There is a $5 million reward on the table, as well as an offer of immunity from the US Attorney.

In his first TV interview, FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly, the Bureau's leading investigator on the Gardner Case, tells FOX 25's Bob Ward the trail for the missing Gardner artwork has not grown cold.

Kelly said the Bureau has confirmed sightings, from sources the Bureau deems credible, of the Gardner artwork in the years after it was stolen. He also identified three persons of interest in the Gardner case, all with ties to organized crime: Carmello Merlino, Robert Guarente, and Robert Gentile.

Kelly said in the late 1990's, two FBI informants told the Bureau that Merlino was preparing to return Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea of Galilee, in an effort to collect the reward. However, Merlino and his crew were soon arrested in an aborted armored car heist and the painting was never returned.

Kelly believes Guarente somehow passed control of the stolen Gardner artwork to Gentile, a Manchester, Conn. man. Kelly believes Gentile has ties to organized crime in Philadelphia, PA and that Gentile helped bring some or all of the stolen Gardner artwork to Philadelphia where it was last seen in 2000, offered for sale.

In 2012 Gentile's home and property in Manchester, Conn. were extensively searched but no sign of the stolen Gardner artwork was located. However, Kelly said authorities recovered police paraphernalia, including "clothing, articles of clothing with police and FBI insignias on it, handcuffs, a scanner, two way radios, and Tasers" and these are not common items.

Gentile, through his lawyer, denied having any connection to the Gardner art heist or with moving the artwork after the fact.

Both Merlino and Guarente are now dead.

If you have any information about the Gardner Museum artwork, call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI. There is a $5 million reward in this case.


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