Husky Mystery Files: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist

As there aren’t as many Northeastern and Boston happenings in the summer, I thought this would be a good time to dig into the archives of Husky Mysteries. Although not directly pertaining to Northeastern (but still a part of our community), today’s entry is: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist.

On the night of March 18, 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, located just a couple of blocks away from Northeastern’s campus, and roamed the museum’s galleries, stealing thirteen works of art. How did they do it? The thieves arrived at the Gardner Museum dressed as police officers, and told the guard on duty to let them in as they were responding to a 911 call. The guard on duty broke protocol by letting the “police officers” through the door. Then, after the thieves told the guard he was being placed under arrest, had him call in the other security guard to the front, upon which the thieves handcuffed both of the guards, locked them in the basement, and proceeded to loot the museum. The thieves have never been identified, and the works of art have never surfaced.

Although the 22 year old heist is still unsolved, it is far from done, however. In June of this year, the FBI searched the Connecticut home of Robert Gentile, an alleged member of a Philadelphia crime family, with the suspicion that he could’ve been involved with the case. Although his attorney denies any involvement on Gentile’s part, the FBI believes he at least has some knowledge of the stolen pieces of art with value approximated to be over 500 million dollars.

The courtyard at the Gardner Museum

To this day, the ISG Museum still has the empty frames of the missing artwork in their original places, as the museum still runs according to Isabella Stewart Gardner’s original will stating that her original collection must remain untouched.

While Northeastern students can’t get in for free like they can at the MFA, the Gardner Museum is still a must-see for any art or heist fan. Tickets are 5 dollars with student ID, and free for people named Isabella (no really, that is their policy). 

Info on the museum here:


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