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Episode one, “81 minutes”

(M. Scott Brauer/The New York Times)

Anthony Amore

Gardner Museum’s Head of Security

Anthony Amore has worked as security director for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum since 2005. In his role at the museum, he also is responsible for assisting the FBI in solving the heist. By his own account, Amore still speaks at least daily with Geoffrey Kelly, the top FBI agent on the case, and works with him to pursue leads, conduct interviews, communicate with reporters, art investigators and even members of the public about the case. He has even accompanied federal agents on the numerous searches of homes and other properties.

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Over the years, he has become a consultant specializing in art theft and museum security. He has written two books: “Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Story of Notorious Art Heists” (with reporter Tom Mashberg) in 2011 and “The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries in the Art World” in 2015. In 2018, he ran on the Republican ticket for the office of Secretary of State in Massachusetts.

Amore says he will not rest until the paintings are found. While maintaining confidentiality of the criminal investigation, Amore has said publicly he believes the heist was the work of a local criminal gang, with assistance from someone inside the museum. He believes the artwork has been stashed somewhere nearby.

Anne Hawley

Gardner Museum’s Director

Anne Hawley was the director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum when it was robbed in 1990. She had only been on the job for a matter of months when the theft occurred. The fourth director since Gardner died in 1924, Hawley’s mission was to restore vitality to the museum, which had begun to fray because of inadequate fundraising. Haunted by the loss of the masterworks and concerned that the FBI wasn’t giving the case adequate attention, Hawley took an active role in the probe. She hired a private investigative firm, encouraged Boston’s business and political leaders to get involved and even pursued leads herself. Before retiring in 2015, Hawley led a $118 million fundraising campaign that built an extension to the museum designed by famed architect Renzo Piano.

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Isabella Stewart Gardner

Art Collector

Born in 1840, Isabella Stewart Gardner became a force of nature in Boston society and a leading American art collector. A Boston newspaper in 1875 called her “one of the seven wonders of Boston.” The newspaper noted: “There is nobody like her in any city in this country. Everything she does is novel and original. She is as brilliant as her own diamonds and is as attractive. Boston is divided into two parts of which one follows science and the other, Mrs. Jack Gardner.” As a young woman, she spent her time cultivating fascinating people -- mostly young, beautiful, creative men -- and was a philanthropic force in the city. She inherited her father’s fortune and collected art. Toward the end of her life, Gardner wrote to a friend: “Years ago, I decided that the greatest need in our country was art.” And that is what she left behind in the Renaissance-style Venetian palazzo known as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Richard Abath

Gardner Museum’s Night Watchman

Richard (Rick) Abath, 23, worked as a night watchman and made the grievous error of allowing the thieves into the museum. Authorities have long suspected that Abath, who now lives and works as a teacher’s aide in Vermont, may have been complicit. He’s cooperated fully with investigators throughout the process and claims he has passed FBI lie detector tests. However, suspicions around Abath’s possible involvement in the robbery arose again when investigators discovered the museum’s motion detector equipment had not picked up the presence of the two thieves in the museum’s Blue Room, where a Manet portrait was snatched. The last movement detected that night had been Abath’s footsteps on his initial patrol rounds.

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Stephen Kurkjian

Randy

Gardner Museum’s Night Watchman

Randy was the second security guard working on the night of the heist. This podcast is the first time he has spoken publicly about what happened that night, and has asked us to not use his last name. In 1990, he was working to land gigs as a musician, but worked at the museum to make ends meet. He had recently earned a masters in performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and had a passion for symphonic music. On the night of the heist, he wasn’t scheduled to work, but was called in because another guard called out sick. Today, he makes his money playing music, mostly on cruise ships.

Episode two, “Inside job?”

Jon-Paul Kroger

Gardner Museum Security Team

Jon-Paul Kroger trained and supervised the Gardner Museum security guards including those who worked for the overnight shift. He contended that night watchmen were told they should not allow anyone into the museum after hours claims there would be no reason a security guard who he trained would open the door to the museum after hours, not even for police officers. He explained that in that case, the protocol in such cases would be to get the name and badge number, call and verify their identity with the station, and only let hem in if there were a legitimate reason.

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Fisher, Robert (Courtesy Nixon Peabody)
Fisher, Robert (Courtesy Nixon Peabody)

Rob Fisher

Assistant U.S. Attorney

Rob Fisher was the assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the Gardner heist investigation from 2010 to 2016. He reviewed the security tape from the night before the heist -- when Rick Abath was on duty. He wanted to see if Abath regularly opened and closed the door, as he claimed he did.

Cynthia Dieges

Gardner Museum Security Guard

Cynthia Dieges worked at the Gardner Museum as a security guard at the time of the heist, and roomed with the second night watchman who was on duty when the theft took place. According to Dieges, To hear her tell it, if there were a rule against late night visitors, it wasn’t uniformly followed.

Lyle Grindle

Gardner Museum Former Security Director

Lyle Grindle was director of security at the Gardner Museum from 1981 until his retirement in 2004. On his recommendations, the museum’s trustees agreed to several major improvements in the museum’s security system including installation of a climate control system, a motion detector equipment and a modernization of it fire alarm network.

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Steve Keller

Museum Security Expert

Steve Keller is a museum security expert. In the late 1980s, prompted in part by an FBI warning in 1981 that a pair of well-known thieves had been casing the Gardner, the museum hired Keller to size up its security apparatus. Keller had one main recommendation: layers. Build more layers between would-be bad guys and your collection. Keller was brought back in by the Gardner after the heist to test the motion sensors in the Blue Room, from which “Chez Tortoni” had been stolen.

Episode three, “Not a Bunch of Jamokes”

Martin Leppo

Criminal Defense Attorney

Leppo is a longtime criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts. He has represented many of those associated with the Gardner heist including Myles Connor Jr., William Youngworth, Robert Guarente, Carmello Merlino, David Turner and Stephen Rossetti. Now in his 80s, Leppo continues to practice law and to talk to his clients about assisting in the recovery of the artwork.

Robert Sikellis

Former Assistant Massachusetts Attorney General

As a young prosecutor in the early ‘90s, Sikellis spearheaded the State Police investigation into a cocaine trafficking ring that operated out of a Dorchester auto body shop called TRC Auto Electric. The shop was managed by crime figure Carmello Merlino. Some believe that Merlino associates, including David Turner and Robert Guarente, were plotting the Gardner heist while the cocaine trafficking probe was underway. In a case prosecuted by Sikellis in 1995, Turner was acquitted of pulling off a late night robbery of Boston’s famed restaurant Cheers. Sikellis says he believes whoever pulled off the Gardner heist had been hired by higher-level criminals and the thieves knew nothing of who masterminded the theft or where the artwork wound up.

Carmello Merlino

Leader of TRC Auto Electric crime ring

Carmello Merlino was just like every other suburban father, shuttling his son to hockey practice while operating an auto repair shop in the gritty Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, except, according to a close relative, he just “couldn’t walk away from a score.” Convicted of robbing a Brinks armored truck in the late 1960s, Merlino opened an auto repair garage in the gritty Boston neighborhood of Dorchester when he was paroled in the 1980s. Geoff Kelly, the FBI’s lead agent on the Gardner investigation, believes that the heist may have been plotted there. Merlino talked about having access to stolen paintings after being arrested for operating a cocaine trafficking ring out of the garage in 1994. A few years later, the FBI placed an undercover informant into Merlino’s garage and secretly taped Merlino’s continued talking with associates about the Gardner paintings. Soon Merlino and the informant were plotting the robbery of an armored car depot in Easton, Massachusetts. The first thing that the FBI told Merlino and the three others arrested in the scheme was that all charges would be dropped if they could reveal the location of the stolen art. Unable to deliver, Merlino died in prison in 2005.

Anthony (Tony) Romano,

Criminal turned FBI informant

Tony Romano was a petty criminal with a serious drug problem. After assisting FBI agent David Nadolski and local police in the recovery of four priceless books, including a family Bible stolen from the John Quincy Adams family estate in Quincy, Romano was paroled from state prison and went to work for Carmello Merlino at his auto repair shop in Dorchester. Within a short time, Romano re-connected with Nadolski to tell him that Merlino was plotting to rob a nearby armored car depot in Easton and was talking about recovering the stolen Gardner Museum art. Nadolski convinced Romano to wear a wire. For months beginning in late 1997, Romano secretly recorded dozens of conversations with Merlino and several others as they plotted the armored car headquarters’ robbery. Although lawyers for the four arrested men stressed that the FBI has set them up in the robbery to force their cooperation on the Gardner case, the secret recordings made by Romano showed the four were willing participants and led to their convictions. Romano was relocated to Florida and given a new identity by the FBI. Soon he fell back into his drug-using habits. He later died of a brain aneurysm.

Neil Cronin

FBI agent leading the Gardner investigation

When FBI agent David Nadolski learned that Carmello Merlino was discussing with associates his hopes of gaining recovery of the stolen Gardner artwork, he asked Cronin to join the investigation. Merlino told them both that the $5 million reward offered by the museum for return of the artwork was spurring his efforts and he was to talking to several longtime friends in and out of the criminal underworld in his efforts. The talks led nowhere and ended when Merlino and three others were arrested in early 1999 for trying to rob an armored car depot in Easton. A 23-year veteran of the FBI, Cronin died in 2003 in a car crash on Rt. 495 in Wrentham.

Richard Chicovsky (Fat Ritchie)

FBI informant

After showing up to talk secretly with Carmello Merlino about the Gardner theft, Merlino told federal agents that he thought Chicofsky would be able to lead him to recover the stolen pieces. However, Chicofsky, a paid federal informant on other investigations, told the agents in a secret meeting that he was meeting with Merlino because he thought Merlino could gain the recovery. In the end, neither was able to facilitate a return.

David Nadolski

Retired FBI Agent

David Nadolski joined the FBI in 1983 and arrived at the Boston bureau in the fall of 1991. He was assigned to major crimes under a federal jurisdiction. He worked in tandem with the Boston FBI’s Neil Cronin, the lead agent on the Gardner case, when an informant -- Tony Romano -- began sharing information on a suspect. After spending 21 years with the bureau, Nadolski retired as a supervisory special agent.

Episode four, “Two Bad Men”

David Turner

Gardner Heist Suspect

David A. Turner was considered a suspect in the Gardner heist early on in the investigation. In 1992, two years after the heist, his fingerprints were sent to the FBI’s lab, along with those of several others, to determine if they could be found on items taken from the crime scene. The tests were inconclusive. Turner has denied repeatedly to reporters and in court that he had any knowledge of the heist, but he associated with known felons whose names had been tied to the crime including Robert Guarente, Carmello Merlino and Stephen Rossetti. Turner, Merlino and Rossetti were convicted in the late 1990s -- and sentenced to long prison terms -- for conspiring to steal millions from the Loomis-Fargo vault outside of Boston, a scheme which had been arranged by federal authorities to gain information on the Gardner heist. Turner has steadfastly denied that he has cooperated with authorities in the Gardner case but The Boston Globe reported in 2016 that federal officials shaved seven years off of his 38-year sentence, a reduction that puts his release in 2025.

George Reissfelder

Gardner Heist Suspect

George Reissfelder was already seen as a celebrity when he started hanging out at Carmello Merlino’s auto repair shop in Dorchester in the late 1980s. More than a decade before, he had drawn front-page headlines and network TV interviews when he was freed from prison after serving 16 years on the wrongful conviction of a murder charge. The publicity was mostly because of the legal defense work of John F. Kerry, and Kerry’s law partner. Although Kerry would use the case to promote his then-budding political career, Reissfelder went in the opposite direction, returning to his bad habits of using cocaine and hanging out with criminal contacts, both of which were in full supply at Merlino’s garage. Robert Beauchamp, one of those contacts, has stated that Reissfelder and David Turner, another devotee of Merlino’s garage, visited him often in Massachusetts state prison during this term and in the vaguest of terms told him they were planning a major robbery and asked how they might hide the valuables in the immediate aftermath. Reissfelder, who bore a remarkable resemblance to the sketch drawn of one of the thieves, died of a cocaine overdose in July 1991. While nothing directly tying him in the Gardner theft was found in his apartment, Reissfelder’s brother later told investigators later that he had seen what he thought to be Manet’s “Chez Tortoni,” one of the 13 artworks stolen from the Gardner, as having hung for a time over his brother’s bed.

Ulrich Boser

Author

Ulrich Boser is the author of “The Gardner Heist,” in which he posits that David Turner and George Reissfelder were the thieves who robbed the museum. He’s a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress now, but still has a mild obsession with the Gardner case. He calls it the “perfect vehicle to tell the story of Boston.” “It, in my mind, represents so much of the city’s respect for art and culture, its value of learning, and the sort of really richer ideas, and then also represents, you know, this other side of the city that is rough, and dirty, and criminal, and we have this tension that, you know, rests at the center of it all.”

Michael Blanding

Investigative Reporter

Michael Blanding was a staff writer at Boston Magazine when he first received a letter from Gardner heist suspect, David Turner, who had been ensnared in the February 1999 sting on TRC Auto Electric. Writing from prison, Turner expressed his belief that the FBI had set him up for one crime -- the planned Loomis Fargo heist -- in order to squeeze him on another: the Gardner. Over the course of a correspondence that spanned several years, Turner proposed that Blanding write a book about his life. Turner dangled tantalizing hints about the Gardner heist and other unsolved crimes, but eventually stopped communicating with Blanding. But not before he shared a few poems about him written by a fellow inmate. Hear Michael Blanding read from one of them, “The Sting,” here:

Robert Sikellis

Former Assistant Massachusetts Attorney General

As a young prosecutor in the early ‘90s, Sikellis spearheaded the State Police investigation into a cocaine trafficking ring that operated out of a Dorchester auto body shop called TRC Auto Electric. The shop was managed by crime figure Carmello Merlino. Some believe that Merlino associates, including David Turner and Robert Guarente, were plotting the Gardner heist while the cocaine trafficking probe was underway. In a case prosecuted by Sikellis in 1995, Turner was acquitted of pulling off a late night robbery of Boston’s famed restaurant Cheers. Sikellis says he believes whoever pulled off the Gardner heist had been hired by higher-level criminals and the thieves knew nothing of who masterminded the theft or where the artwork wound up.

Shelley Murphy

Boston Globe Reporter

Likely the most informed reporter in Boston on the city’s rich organized crime history, Murphy was co-author of the New York Times best-seller “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice.” In recent years, Murphy has spearheaded the coverage of the Gardner investigation for The Boston Globe with such articles as the most likely theories for the theft of the artwork; how federal investigators had cut seven years from one suspect’s long prison sentence to gain his cooperation in the case and how a long-ago Boston mob figure had passed on to the FBI a key tip about the whereabouts of the paintings in the late 1990s.

Robert Beauchamp

George Reissfelder’s Associate

Convicted of killing a friend in Arlington 1971, Beauchamp started a relationship George Reissfelder while serving in prison. Beauchamp contends that Reissfelder and David Turner visited him in Bay State Correctional Facility in Norfolk numerous times in 1988 and 1989 and without providing details, mentioned intentions for a museum robbery. Reissfelder’s motive, in part, was his anger over the state’s refusal to compensate him for serving 14 years in prison for murder he had not committed. In hopes of gaining consideration for his own release, Beauchamp has cooperated with the FBI and the museum in their search for a recovery. But Anthony Amore, head of security for the museum, has said that based on Beauchamp’s statements the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office searched homes in Dedham; Lewiston, Maine; and Orrington, Maine, but each time, investigators came up empty.

Roanne Sragow

Lawyer

As a lawyer in the the early 1980s, Roanne Sragow worked with John F. Kerry (who would go on to become a U.S. senator, Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Secretary of State) to free George Reissfelder from prison on the basis that he had been wrongly identified and convicted at his criminal trial for murdering a security guard in 1966. Sragow’s efforts to convince the Massachusetts Legislature to compensate Reissfelder for the 16 years he had served in jail for the wrongful conviction failed, however.

Anthony Amore

Gardner Museum Security Director

Anthony Amore was hired as director of security for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2005 and still holds the position today. Previously, he had worked as a specialist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In taking on the role at the Gardner, he also took on the responsibility of assisting the FBI in solving one of history’s most bedeviling museum heists. By his own account, Amore still speaks at least daily with Geoffrey Kelly, the top FBI agent on the case, and works with him to pursue leads, conduct interviews, communicate with reporters, art investigators and even members of the public about the case. He has even accompanied federal agents on the numerous searches of homes and other properties. In 2013, when federal officials held a press conference to announce what they regarded as a break in the case, Amore spoke as the Gardner Museum’s representative. Amore says he will not rest until the paintings are found. Over the years, he has widened his focus beyond the Gardner case and become a consultant specializing in art theft and museum security. He has written two books: “Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Story of Notorious Art Heists” (with reporter Tom Mashberg) in 2011 and “The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries in the Art World” in 2015. He is running on the 2018 Republican ticket for the office of Secretary of State in Massachusetts. While maintaining confidentiality on the status of the criminal investigation, Amore has said publicly that he believes the heist was the work of a local criminal gang working with some measure of inside information. He believes the artwork has been stashed somewhere nearby. The one question Amore is burning to ask the thieves, if he could, is why they chose to steal the artworks that they did.

Janice Santos

Former Wife Of George Reissfelder

Janice Santos was 22 years old and in the Army National Guard when she married George Reissfelder just two months after his release from prison in 1982. At the time of their marriage, Santos held the rank of Corporal and was on her way to flight school. She was on track to become the first female helicopter pilot in Massachusetts. Reissfelder scuttled that dream. Santos likened the seven years she spent with George Reissfelder to being his “prisoner.” He had jealous rages and beat Santos, and he barred her from reporting for military duty. Santos eventually lost her high rank and received a dishonorable discharge. Her divorce from Reissfelder was finally granted in 1990, the same year his name would be added to the list of men whose name has been attached to the Gardner heist.

Episode five, “The Bobbys”

Bobby Guarente

Criminal

Robert “Bobby” Guarente, a Boston mob associate, became a key suspect in the Gardner theft in 2010 -- six years after his death. He had long been associated with the TRC Auto Electric gang. He was a father figure to David Turner. TRC’s leader Carmello Merlino even walked Bobby’s wife, Elene, down the aisle at their wedding. There were a number of threads that began raising suspicions around Guarente, years after the artwork went missing. His widow, Elene, told the FBI in 2010 that he had turned over several of the masterpieces to his good friend Bobby Gentile after the men and their wives had enjoyed a seafood dinner in Portland, Maine, eight years before. In 2005, Guarente’s friend Earle Berghman and Guarente’s daughter Jeanine approached the Gardner twice with what Jeanine claimed were remnants from the masterpieces. Berghman later told me about this, and he and others explained that the so-called remnants were actually chips of house paint on the first occasion and shreds of a magazine cover on the second. In 2016, The Boston Globe learned from former mob leader Bobby Luisi that, back in 1998, Guarente told him he had buried some of the stolen Gardner art beneath a concrete slab of a house in Florida.

Bobby Gentile

Criminal

Robert “Bobby” Gentile denied that either he or his old friend and criminal associate Bobby Guarente, ever had possession of the stolen Gardner artwork, but not for lack of trying. Both were enraptured by the $5 million reward that the museum was offering for the recovery in the late 1990s. Unmoved by Gentile’s claims of innocence, the FBI has set him up in two other crimes in recent years -- which he immediately fell for -- to increase pressure on him to cooperate in its Gardner probe. Gentile has pleaded guilty to the crimes and has served five years in prison, all the while maintaining that he never had possession of the stolen artwork. While three searches of his home outside Hartford, Connecticut, have found no signs of the artwork, the authorities did recover a piece of typewriter paper on which was written what each of the 13 stolen items might fetch on the black market.

Ryan McGuigan

Bobby Gentile’s defense attorney

Ryan McGuigan defended Bobby Gentile, a criminal with mafia ties who was believed to have knowledge on the Gardner heist. It was said that Gentile received the Gardner artwork from Bobby Guarente in a Maine parking lot back in 2002. But without any proof, the FBI could only pressure him into sharing what he knew about the art. McGuigan doesn’t believe Gentile knows anything about the art. In 2016, McGuigan got a call from a prison hospital -- Gentile was on his deathbed. He flew from Connecticut to be by Gentile’s side. Gentile asked McGuigan not to let him die there. McGuigan urged his client to reveal what he knew about the Gardner art so that he could get him on a plane back to Hartford, to die in his own bed, by his wife’s side. With tears streaming down his face, Gentile told McGuigan, “There ain’t no paintings.” He survived the health scare, and McGuigan maintains that if Gentile knew anything about the Gardner’s stolen masterpieces, he would have said so when he had every reason to believe he was about to die.

Rick DesLauriers

Special Agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division

Rick DesLauriers was head of the Boston FBI back in 2013 when the bureau announced to the public that it was confident it knew who was responsible for the Gardner Museum theft and that the missing art was transported to Connecticut, and then Philadelphia. It was the first time since the theft happened that the government came out and declared movement on the case. DesLauriers characterized the announcement as the start of the “final chapter” in the Gardner saga.

George Anastasia

Reporter, Philadelphia

George Anastasia has covered organized crime in Philadelphia for 40 years. The Gardner heist investigation follows a thread that puts the Gardner art in the city around 2003. According to Anastasia though, the Philadelphia mob would have never known how to sell masterpieces, let alone Rembrandts. He remembers a time when they had a Lamborghini but in moving it, completely wrecked the car. “I mean, if they can’t deal with a Lamborghini, how are they going to deal with a Degas, Manet, or Rembrandt? I don’t know,” Anastasia said. “It’s almost dangerous to think about what might have happened to this precious stuff.”

Barry Gross

Mob Prosecutor

Barry Gross’ career in law enforcement began seven years before the Gardner heist. He spent his time prosecuting members of the mob in the Philadelphia area. And he says, he never heard a word about the stolen Gardner art.

Shelley Murphy

Boston Globe Reporter

Likely the most informed reporter in Boston on the city’s rich organized crime history, Murphy was co-author of the New York Times best-seller “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice.” In recent years, Murphy has spearheaded the coverage of the Gardner investigation for The Boston Globe with such articles as the most likely theories for the theft of the artwork; how federal investigators had cut seven years from one suspect’s long prison sentence to gain his cooperation in the case and how a long-ago Boston mob figure had passed on to the FBI a key tip about the whereabouts of the paintings in the late 1990s.

Anthony Amore

Gardner Museum’s Director of Security

Anthony Amore was hired as director of security for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2005 and still holds the position today. Previously, he had worked as a specialist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In taking on the role at the Gardner, he also took on the responsibility of assisting the FBI in solving one of history’s most bedeviling museum heists. By his own account, Amore still speaks at least daily with Geoffrey Kelly, the top FBI agent on the case, and works with him to pursue leads, conduct interviews, communicate with reporters, art investigators and even members of the public about the case. He has even accompanied federal agents on the numerous searches of homes and other properties. In 2013, when federal officials held a press conference to announce what they regarded as a break in the case, Amore spoke as the Gardner Museum’s representative. Amore says he will not rest until the paintings are found. Over the years, he has widened his focus beyond the Gardner case and become a consultant specializing in art theft and museum security. He has written two books: “Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Story of Notorious Art Heists” (with reporter Tom Mashberg) in 2011 and “The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries in the Art World” in 2015. He is running on the 2018 Republican ticket for the office of Secretary of State in Massachusetts. While maintaining confidentiality on the status of the criminal investigation, Amore has said publicly that he believes the heist was the work of a local criminal gang working with some measure of inside information. He believes the artwork has been stashed somewhere nearby. The one question Amore is burning to ask the thieves, if he could, is why they chose to steal the artworks that they did.

Episode six, ‘Befriend + Betray’

Bob Wittman

FBI Art Recovery Agent

Bob Wittman, now retired from the agency, is the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team. In his

20-year career with the FBI, he recovered more than $300 million worth of cultural property,

including a Rembrandt self-portrait and an original copy of the Bill of Rights. Wittman had dual

expertise as an art expert and an undercover agent, making him uniquely adept at convincing

criminals to sell him stolen art. Wittman went undercover in 2006 to follow up on a tip about the Gardner’s stolen works. A potential recovery hinged on the trust he built with a Corsican gang

operating in France and Miami. But Wittman says his efforts were undermined by a territorial

supervisor in the Boston FBI office - a supervisor who did what he could to push Wittman off the case in order to maintain Boston’s sole dominance in the investigation.

Bob Goldman

Assistant U.S. Attorney

Bob Goldman was an assistant U.S. attorney. He worked alongside Bob Wittman, who was an

agent with the FBI, to investigate and prosecute cases involving stolen art and antiquities. They

were a dynamic law enforcement team whose work was instrumental in convincing the federal

government that it should spend more resources on recovering stolen art. Goldman credits

Wittman’s success to his deep knowledge of the art trade as well as his ease undercover.

Eric Ives

FBI Supervisor

Eric Ives was the founding supervisor of the FBI's Art Crime Team, making him Bob Wittman’s boss for a period of time. “Bob Wittman, in a football analogy, was the quarterback,” Ives says.

“He had the experience and expertise and, unusual to many programs, Bob not only had the art

expertise, but he also was an undercover agent. So it was a rare opportunity for us to take

advantage of his skill set.”

Dave Hall

Assistant U.S. Attorney

Dave Hall worked closely with Bob Wittman. He was a special prosecutor assigned to the FBI’s

Art Crime Team at the time of Operation Masterpiece, Wittman’s undercover operation

infiltrating a French gang in pursuit of the stolen Gardner art. Hall says that the reason the

operation fell apart had a lot to do with agents seeking personal glory, instead of focusing on

their duty. He also backs up Wittman’s credibility on the team.

“No one in the FBI had his experience as an undercover in the, you know, art and cultural

property space. And nobody since,” Hall says. “You know, he was one of a kind. So he was a

really, really precious resource at this moment in time in this really important case.”

Episode seven, ‘I Was The One’

Myles Connor

Criminal

Myles Connor first became something of a local legend in the Boston area with his rock ‘n’ roll band, The Wild Ones – but his infamy grew with his criminal exploits, especially thefts of art and Chinese vases. Connor was responsible for stealing a Rembrandt by riflepoint from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in 1975, and hoped that returning the masterpiece would lighten his prison sentence for robbing several Wyeth paintings from a Maine estate the year before with Bobby Donati. Connor was in jail serving the end of a 10-year drug sentence when the Gardner theft occurred, but he later wrote in his book, “Art of The Heist,” that he cased the museum in the 1970s with Donati, who he believed executed the historic theft.

Bobby Donati 

Criminal 

Robert “Bobby” Donati, a petty criminal from Revere, Mass., had been eyed by authorities as a possible suspect in the Gardner heist since the mid-1990s. Legendary art thief Myles Connor was quoted saying that he knew Donati was responsible for the heist because the two had cased the museum years before. More recently, an intermediary for Boston mob leader Vincent Ferrara told me that Donati visited him in prison after he was arrested for racketeering in late 1989 and told him of his daring plan. Donati said he intended to gain Ferrara’s release by pulling off a major theft that would so shock the city that authorities would be willing to negotiate to recover the stolen items, echoing the common underworld belief that a stolen masterpiece is a get-out-of-jail-free card. Ferrara, according to the intermediary, urged Donati not to go forward with the theft, saying the authorities would never consider such a deal for someone charged with racketeering. Donati visited Ferrara in prison two more times soon after the March 18, 1990 heist and told him that he robbed the museum and would be soon be approaching the authorities. It’s not known if he did, but in September 1991, Donati was found brutally stabbed to death, stuffed in the trunk of a 1980 Cadillac a block away from his home.

Al Dotoli

Myles Connor’s Best Friend 

Al Dotoli is a law-abiding music production manager who once helped his best friend, notorious art thief Myles Connor, out of a serious jam. In 1976, Dotoli -- donning a ski mask and using an alias -- hand-delivered a stolen Rembrandt to a state police major and assistant U.S. attorney. Connor had stolen the Rembrandt from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in order to negotiate a reduced sentence for another federal crime -- trafficking five Wyeth paintings he’d stolen in Maine. Dotoli and Connor met as teenagers in Milton, Mass., and bonded over a shared love of rock ‘n’ roll. As crime derailed Connor’s music ambitions, Dotoli moved on with his own, eventually setting up sound systems for Aretha Franklin, the Dalai Lama and Super Bowl halftime shows.

David Houghton

Criminal 

David Houghton was a small-time criminal and a friend of Myles Connor. Connor claims Houghton robbed the Gardner Museum with Bobby Donati and a third accomplice. Connor claims that after the heist, Houghton flew to California to visit him in prison, and told Connor they planned to use the valuable paintings to negotiate him a reduced sentence. If Houghton was involved, it’s almost impossible to imagine he was one of the two men dressed as cops who duped the guards because he was more than 300 pounds and doesn’t match the descriptions of the thieves. He died of a heart attack in 1991 -- the year after the heist.

Anthony Amore  

Gardner Museum Director of Security

Anthony Amore was hired as director of security for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2005 and still holds the position today. Previously, he worked as a specialist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In taking on the role at the Gardner, he also took on the responsibility of assisting the FBI in solving one of history’s most bedeviling museum heists. By his own account, Amore still speaks at least daily with Geoffrey Kelly, the top FBI agent on the case, and works with him to pursue leads, conduct interviews, communicate with reporters, art investigators and even members of the public about the case. He has even accompanied federal agents on the numerous searches of homes and other properties. In 2013, when federal officials held a press conference to announce what they regarded as a break in the case, Amore spoke as the Gardner Museum’s representative. Amore says he will not rest until the paintings are found. Over the years, he has widened his focus beyond the Gardner case and become a consultant specializing in art theft and museum security. He has written two books: “Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Story of Notorious Art Heists” (with reporter Tom Mashberg) in 2011 and “The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries in the Art World” in 2015. He is running on the 2018 Republican ticket for the office of secretary of state in Massachusetts. While maintaining confidentiality on the status of the criminal investigation, Amore has said publicly that he believes the heist was the work of a local criminal gang working with some measure of inside information. He believes the artwork has been stashed somewhere nearby. The one question Amore is burning to ask the thieves, if he could, is why they chose to steal the artworks that they did.

Martin Leppo

Criminal Defense Attorney

Leppo is a longtime criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts. He has represented many of those associated with the Gardner heist including Myles Connor, William Youngworth, Robert Guarente, Carmello Merlino, David Turner, and Stephen Rossetti. Now in his 80s, Leppo continues to practice law and to talk to his clients about assisting in the recovery of the artwork.

Episode eight, ‘Flim-Flammer’

Brian Michael McDevitt

Criminal

Brian Michael McDevitt’s fingerprints would be among the first to be sent to FBI headquarters in the wake of the Gardner Museum robbery. Raised in the coastal town of Swampscott, Massachusetts, he dropped out of Bates college after just a year and went on steal $100,000 from a Boston lawyer’s safe deposit boxes. He used the ill-gotten proceeds to finance a charade in Glens Falls, New York, where he masqueraded as a Vanderbilt and concocted an elaborate plan to empty The Hyde Collection of more than 70 masterpieces. McDevitt was living in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood when the Gardner Museum was robbed. In 1992, he claimed to a former girlfriend, Stéphanie Rabinowitz, that he had been paid $300,000 to rob the Gardner Museum, and that he had leave the country. McDevitt died at the age of 43 in Medellin, Colombia, in 2004.

Fred Fisher

Director of the Hyde Collection

Fred Fisher was director of The Hyde Collection in Glens Fall, New York, starting in 1978. The museum was built in 1912 by Charlotte Pruyn Hyde, the heiress of a paper fortune, to showcase the collection of Old Masters and Renaissance tapestries that she and her husband, Louis Hyde, had amassed. Inspired in its Italian Renaissance design by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Hyde mirrored the Boston museum in other ways, too: By 1980, it was low on funds, its security was weak, and it attracted the scheming of thieves. When Paul Stirling Vanderbilt alit upon Glens Falls, New York, in the spring of 1980, he set his sights on ingratiating himself to Fisher, who was immediately wary of the posh young man’s intentions. He was right to be. The man masquerading as a Vanderbilt was actually a 20-year old conman, Brian Michael McDevitt, whose identity was revealed in the wake of his failed attempt to rob The Hyde.

Stéphanie Rabinowitz

Former Girlfriend Of McDevitt

Stéphanie Rabinowitz met Brian McDevitt in Boston on July 6, 1989 at a comedy club. She was 22 at the time, living in Allston and working in animation for film and commercials. McDevitt told her that he was a screenwriter for “The Wonder Years” and Paramount and Columbia. He was not. Six months into their relationship -- and three days before the Gardner Museum robbery -- McDevitt told Rabinowitz he was heading to New York City for the Writers Guild Awards ceremony, and that he’d be out of touch all weekend. She didn’t hear from him again until late in the day on Sunday, March 18, 1990, the day the museum was robbed. Rabinowitz kept detailed diaries at the time. In one entry, from 1992, she recalled that McDevitt, who had recently been outed in the press as a suspect in the Gardner heist, asked her to be his alibi for the date the Gardner was robbed. She denied him.

Ben Pollack

Subject Of McDevitt’s Harassment

Ben Pollack directs television commercials and music videos now. In mid-July of 1991, when he met Brian McDevitt at the Writers Guild West, in Los Angeles, he was 19, just getting started in the business, and naïve. He was taken with McDevitt, who flattered him and asked to read his writing. But within six months of meeting Brian McDevitt, Pollack would tell police, he’d grown so leery, he hired a private detective to dig into McDevitt’s story. He learned that nothing McDevitt had told him was true. Pollack confronted McDevitt. In turn, McDevitt began a campaign of harassment that went on for weeks, calling Pollack over and over -- sometimes a hundred times or more in a day, just to hang up when he answered. By April, 1992, McDevitt faced misdemeanor charges for harassing Pollack. Not long after, McDevitt reportedly left the country.

Thomas McShane

Former FBI Special Agent

Thomas McShane was an undercover art recovery expert for the FBI for a quarter of a century. He returned some $500 million worth of stolen and forged art, including an El Greco, a Rubens, and a Rembrandt that had been on loan from the Louvre when it was stolen. McShane was among the first FBI agents on the scene at the Gardner Museum the day it was robbed. He ran down a long list of suspects then, and all these years later, there’s just one he still puts his money for having pulled off the Gardner heist: Brian McDevitt.

Nat Segaloff

Brian McDevitt’s Friend

Nat Segaloff is a writer in North Hollywood who’s written a screenplay about Brian McDevitt. He knew him both in Boston and in Los Angeles -- and was perhaps McDevitt’s one true friend. In 2004, McDevitt reached out to Segaloff saying he was running out of time. He had pneumonia, believed his next hospital stay might be his last, and wanted to say goodbye.

Ron Kermani

Investigative Reporter

Ron Kermani was an investigative reporter at the Times Union newspaper in Albany, New York. He wrote the story for Christmas day’s paper about Brian McDevitt’s attempted robbery of the Hyde Collection.

Anthony Amore

Gardner Museum Director of Security

Anthony Amore was hired as director of security for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2005. Previously, he had worked as a specialist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In taking on the role at the Gardner, he also took on the responsibility of assisting the FBI in solving one of history’s most bedeviling museum heists. By his own account, Amore still speaks at least daily with Geoffrey Kelly, the top FBI agent on the case, and works with him to pursue leads, conduct interviews, communicate with reporters, art investigators and even members of the public about the case. He has even accompanied federal agents on the numerous searches of homes and other properties. In 2013, when federal officials held a press conference to announce what they regarded as a break in the case, Amore spoke as the Gardner Museum’s representative. Amore says he will not rest until the paintings are found. Over the years, he has widened his focus beyond the Gardner case and become a consultant specializing in art theft and museum security. He has written two books: “Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Story of Notorious Art Heists” (with reporter Tom Mashberg) in 2011 and “The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries in the Art World” in 2015. He is running on the 2018 Republican ticket for the office of Secretary of State in Massachusetts. While maintaining confidentiality on the status of the criminal investigation, Amore has said publicly that he believes the heist was the work of a local criminal gang working with some measure of inside information. He believes the artwork has been stashed somewhere nearby. The one question Amore is burning to ask the thieves, if he could, is why they chose to steal the artworks that they did.

Randy

Gardner Museum Security Guard

Randy was working the overnight shift when the Gardner Museum was robbed on March 18, 1990. He had recently earned a masters in performance from the New England Conservatory of Music, and he had a passion for symphonic music. The Gardner gig was a way for him to pay the bills. He wasn’t scheduled to work that night, but was called in because another guard called out sick. In this podcast, we agreed to only use Randy’s first name. He believes that the thief who shackled him in the Gardner’s basement the night of the robbery was Brian McDevitt.