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In joke image, stolen Gardner paintings used as space savers

City of Boston

It seems someone had a bit too much time on his or her hands as the region awoke Sunday morning to the aftermath of the first big snowstorm of the season.

In a complaint lodged on the city’s 311 constituent service app, a person submitted an obviously Photoshopped picture of a snowy side street, complete with some unusual parking space savers lining the block: images of the missing paintings from the largest art theft in history.

“Looks like this person is using the stolen paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist as a space saver,” the unidentified person reported to city officials.


The information submitted claimed the “paintings” were arranged along Boylston Street in Jamaica Plain. The image accompanying it, however, was not from that location.

On March 18, 1990, two thieves dressed as police officers robbed the museum of 13 valuable paintings.

Unlike the crime itself, the complaint — probably created in a fit of extreme boredom, or perhaps the byproduct of snow madness — was solved quickly.

It lingered online for roughly 24 hours before those who handle the reports that come in through the app responded. At around 8:41 a.m. Monday, the city dismissed the faux grievance.

“Case Closed. Case Invalid,” city officials wrote, understandably.

Space savers have long been a point of contention between residents across Boston. Unofficially, objects can be used to reserve a shoveled-out space only when a snow emergency is declared. In that case, the cones, milk crates, or barrels used to claim a spot can stay out for a limited time.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh did not declare a snow emergency or ban parking during the weekend storm.

The city did respond to serious complaints about unauthorized space savers Sunday and Monday. The objects were quickly removed.


This isn’t the first time a work of art made its way into the 311 system. In October, either an art-inept citizen or a cheeky passerby complained about “Sunflowers for Vincent,” a large yellow sculpture made of metal parts on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus.

At the time, city officials said they must respond to every complaint, regardless of its authenticity.

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.