The widow of a Mafia associate, whose Maine home the FBI searched three years ago as part of the investigation into the Gardner Museum art heist, told authorities that she saw her husband give a painting to the Connecticut man who has become the latest person of interest in the notorious theft, the Globe has confirmed through several sources, including the woman.
The information was the basis for the recent thorough, repeated searches of the man’s home in Manchester, Conn., according to his lawyer.
Elene Guarente confirmed in an interview Friday that she told Boston-based federal investigators during a trip to her home in 2009 that she saw her husband, the late Robert Guarente, pass a portrait to a man she did not know at the time, who she later learned to be Robert Gentile of Manchester.
She said her husband had only told her of Gentile that “we’ve been friends for 30 or 40 years.’’
Guarente, 61, said in a reluctant interview Friday that she provided her best recollection of the piece to the federal agents and later to a federal grand jury investigating the theft. She told the Globe that her recollection of the painting did not match any of the paintings and sketches authorities showed her.
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