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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, Casey Sherman Destroys Gardner Art Heist Myth

It’s now been thirty years since two thieves dressed as police officers stole 13 artworks worth $500 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on March 18, 1990 and we are still no closer to solving this enduring mystery.
But there’s always a story within the story and that is certainly the case with the Gardner heist which has more layers than a Russian nesting doll.
The investigation gets curiouser and curiouser with a cast of characters that appears to have jumped off the screen from a Guy Ritchie film.
First, there's "Turbo" Paul Hendry, a former art thief turned sleuth living in England who has been following the case since it broke three decades ago when Vermeer’s “The Concert” and Rembrandt’s “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” vanished into thin air. 

Hendry is a popular voice in the Gardner Heist community, having been featured in the 2005 documentary Stolen. He had a bone to pick with me when I gave celebrated Dutch art investigator
sole credit for a proposal to offer individual rewards for the missing pieces in my
column. He's right...  Turbo Paul came up with the original idea years ago. 

Nevertheless, he shared my article on social media He's been working this case like a dog with a bone for years and has been a vocal critic of Anthony Amore, the museum's longtime director of security.

This criticism reportedly prompted an angry phone call from *******, . Hendry alleges that ******* threatened to “destroy” him if he didn’t remove more than 30 tweets from his Twitter profile “Art Hostage” criticizing Amore’s lack of results.
Is the museum security director using a proxy to crush any dissent of his investigation? I asked that question to ****** himself by phone. He calls Hendry’s accusations “ridiculous”. I also reached out to the museum for comment. “The allegations that the Gardner Museum or Mr. Amore are encouraging or condoning any intimidation or pressure efforts by ***** toward the recipient are categorically false," said Griff McNerney, Museum Communications Manager. 
The museum’s cocksure declaration was curious as no one at the institution ever even asked to speak to the alleged victim in this case.
If this is the way the investigation into the stolen artwork is being conducted also, it’s no wonder they haven’t recovered anything in thirty years.
Is this the image the Gardner Museum wishes to project to the world?
If thuggery and intimidation are tactics being used to quash criticism of the Gardner investigation, museum director Peggy Fogelman should step in and make changes immediately. 
First, it’s time to fire security director Anthony Amore who has been leading the museum’s investigation for the past 15 years. He’s never recovered a piece of stolen art in his life.
Imagine if Bill Belichick had never won a playoff game in 15 years? He’d have been out of a job a long time ago.
Instead of chasing leads, Amore spends more time on social media on any given work day than Perez Hilton. 
He’s also used his position to launch a disastrous run for Massachusetts Secretary of State and has published four books about stolen art including two coloring books. It seems that the only person that has profited from the art heist, outside of the thieves, is Anthony Amore.
Arthur Brand, dubbed “The Indiana Jones of the Art World”, has taken to social media calling for Amore to “move over” and let more seasoned investigators take the lead on recovering the stolen art. Brand made headlines last year for finding and returning a $68 million Picasso that was stolen twenty years ago from a luxury yacht in the French Riviera.

 Amore’s dismissed Brand, telling me during an online conversation, 
“We have no comment on some guy’s (bleeping) twitter.” This institutional arrogance is one of the many reasons that not one stolen art work has been recovered on Amore’s watch.
It’s like Inspector Clouseau thumbing his nose at Hercule Poirot. 
Is Anthony Amore the person we want leading the charge to return 13 artworks to its rightful place here in Boston as we mark the 30th anniversary of the notorious heist? I think not.
Casey Sherman is a New York Times bestselling author of 11 books including the upcoming Hunting Whitey: The Inside Story of the Capture and Killing of America's Most Wanted Mob Boss. Follow him on Twitter @caseysherman123