You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Metro

The Gardner Museum heist, March 18, 1990

  • 11:451
  • 12:272
  • 12:443
  • 12:454
  • 12:535
  • 01:046
  • 01:247
  • 01:488
  • 01:579
  • 02:2710
  • 02:4011
  • 06:4512
  • 08:3013
Gardner Museum
11:45 (estimated)
Richard Abath and a second night watchman arrive to work the midnight to 7 a.m. It is the first time that the second man, a full-time guard during the days, is working the midnight shift as he was called in to replace the regular night watchman who has called in ill.


Gardner Museum
12:27
Abath, on the first round of the museum's galleries, passes through the Blue Room on the first floor of the Museum.


Gardner Museum
12:44
Building’s fire alarm system inexplicably goes off and Abath abandons rounds to respond to the alarm box in the museum's basement.


Gardner Museum
12:45 (estimated)
Two men dressed in police uniforms sit in the front seats of a Hatchback parked on Palace Road 100 feet away from the employees' entrance of the museum. They are viewed by several youths who have left a nearby party and are engaging in horseplay on Palace Road.


Gardner Museum
12:53
Abath back on his rounds passes through the Blue Room.


Gardner Museum
01:04
Abath opens and shuts the Palace Roard door then returns to man the security desk.


Gardner Museum
01:24
The two men, identifying themselves as Boston Police officers, ring the buzzer at the Palace Road door and demand entry. Abath at the security desk buzzes them in and they tell him to summon the second night watchman to the desk.


Gardner Museum
01:48
Handcuffed and tied up, the two night watchmen are led to separate places in the basement of the museum. The thieves make their way up the main staircase to the second floor and the Dutch Room. Here the thieves remove five paintings – three by Rembrandt: The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Lady and Gentleman in Black, an etching, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Vermeer’s, The Concert; and The Landscape with an Obelisk, by Govaert Flinck. In addition, they take a bronze beaker from the 12th century BC Shang Dynasty in China.


Gardner Museum
01:57
One of the thieves heads to the Short Gallery and from it take five sketches by Edgar Degas and a golden final in the shape of an eagle that rested atop the pole support for a Napoleonic silk flag.


Gardner Museum
02:27
Both head back to the second floor staircase.


Gardner Museum
02:40
Palace Road door opens and shuts for a minute’s time. At 2.45 opens and shut for a second time.


Gardner Museum
06:45-08:16
The two guards on the morning shift are unable to gain entry to the Gardner as Abath and the second night watchmen remain bound and gagged in the museum’s basement. The two guards call Larry O’Brien, the deputy security director, at his home and O’Brien enters the museum by using a rear door key. When he gets inside, he calls Boston police emergency line.


Gardner Museum
08:30
Police find Abath and second guard bound and gagged in basement.


Chiqui Esteban, Javier Zarracina/GLOBE STAFF

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week