The biggest mafia heist in history was not the legendary Lufthansa heist at JFK Airport in New York.
The heist took place in Boston in the early hours of March 18, 1990 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It took just 88 minutes for two crooks posing as Boston Policemen to steal 500 million dollars in artwork.
To this day not one of the stolen paintings has been recovered and nobody has done any time for the crime. The statute of limitations has passed, but the artwork is still stolen property.
The two thieves went to the museum at 1:20 am, and a guard, who did not follow protocol, buzzed in the two “policemen.” Once inside, they handcuffed two guards in the basement and started cutting paintings out of their frames.
The did got away with a lot of well known works of art including Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” but they left behind a Michelangelo, which was by far the most valuable painting in the museum.
That was the last time anyone knew for sure where those paintings were located.
Artwork, unlike cash, gold, diamonds and even drugs is very hard to move in the underworld. After all, it must go to a private collector that will never show it to anyone else. Who is going to pay millions for something they cannot display?
Cornelius Gurlitt was the son of a well respected art historion who helped the Nazis steal works of art during world war two.
The secret that Cornelius Gurlitt kept until 2012 was a massive horde of stolen artwork. The German authorities raided his apartment on a tax evasion charge and found 121 framed paintings and over 1200 that were not framed. They were works of the great masters.
So I guess somebody out there could have all the painting hidden away in some home or apartment.
Despite a $5 million reward and many informants in the Boston underworld, there have been no substantial leads.
A mob associate named Bobby Donati is believed to be the mastermind behind the heist. Bobby was close to and drove around Vincent “Vinnie the Animal” Ferrara a powerful capo in the Patriarca family that ran the New England underworld.
Bobby D is thought to have gotten a tip from someone who owed the mob cash about the lax security at the museum. The only problem is Bobby D did not know a thing about artwork. So he enlisted the help of master art thief Myles Connor. The two men cased the museum, but Myles was taken down for another heist and given many years in prison.
Vinnie Ferrara went away and so did Bobby D’s protection. He was found in September 1991 hogtied and beaten to a pulp, dead in his trunk. A man the FBI thought was one of the fake policemen died of cancer a year later.
Another Boston mob guy is thought to be the guy who got the okay for the heist, but so far he has kept his mouth shut.