Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery
Other experts in art theft concur with Moore. “Two years is nothing,” says Sheila Cantor of SPI, a Washington, D.C.-based agency that investigates stolen art. Constance Lowenthal comments, “Once the paintings didn’t show up very quickly, it was to be expected that nothing might happen for a long time.” Gardner officials take solace knowing that historically it takes from five to seven years to recover stolen art and that the more famous the work, the higher the chance of recovery.
The museum staff admits they are more cautious now. “We watch visitors more closely,” says spokeswoman Joan Norris. The FBI still calls weekly. “60 Minutes” is planning a fall segment on the theft. The only visible signs of the robbery are the index-sized cards mounted on tables with the name of the painting and the artist printed in black ink in front of the empty spaces on the wall.
“Mrs. Gardner’s will said the museum was ‘for the enjoyment of the public forever,”’ says Norris. “It’s our responsibility to protect this art forever, not just for today. And we will wait forever for them to come back. We expect them to come back.”
Excerpt from “’The Night They Robbed the Gardner,” Yankee Magazine, October 1992.