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Episode
201

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery

Oct 12, 2021
History
-
24
minutes
Crime
USA
Art
True crime
The Mafia
The Police
1990s

It's one of the largest robberies in history and resulted in the disappearance of $600 million worth of art.

Discover what the robbers did, what happened afterwards, who the main suspects are, and why the case may never be solved.

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today is part three of our three-part series on Art Theft.

[00:00:29] In part one we heard about five of the most famous art thefts of all time, from the theft of the Mona Lisa by an Italian handyman to the time when two university dropouts successfully managed to relieve Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology and History of a billion dollars worth of art.

[00:00:51] Then, in part two we learned about a Frenchman called Stéphane Breitwieser, who by many people’s standards was, and still is, the greatest art thief of all time. 

[00:01:03] So in today’s episode we have saved the best for last, the robbery of The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

[00:01:13] It is a story that has puzzled detectives for over 30 years now, and will involve the Irish and Italian mob, the FBI, a hippy, a 19th century socialite art collector, the IRA, fake police officers, dodgy art dealers, and more. 

[00:01:33] It is quite the story, so let’s get right into it.

[00:01:38] For tourists to Boston, Massachusetts, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is one of the most popular attractions.

[00:01:47] It was built in 1899, the brainchild of a wealthy American lady called Isabella Stewart Gardner. 

[00:01:56] From the outside, it might look like nothing special, a large brick building.

[00:02:03] But upon entering it, visitors are amazed by the interior - it looks like a Venetian palace, complete with a large courtyard and monumental arches.

[00:02:16] It is filled with the private collection of this wealthy lady, Isabella Stewart Gardner, who wanted what was her house to be turned into a museum open to the public after her death. 

[00:02:30] It contains beautiful works of art: Rembrandt, Bellinis, Titians, and more.

[00:02:37] As you stroll through the rooms, admiring the beautiful works of art, you will notice something even more surprising. 

[00:02:46] There are 13 frames that are completely empty, the paintings inside them gone.

[00:02:54] They have been left there as a reminder of the events of March 18th 1990, and what was until recently the largest art robbery of all time.

[00:03:07] March the 17th, as you may know, is St Patrick’s Day, an important day of celebration in Ireland, and for people with Irish ancestry.

[00:03:19] Boston is one of the cities in the United States with the largest Irish population, and therefore on the evening of the 17th of March there were plenty of revellers, plenty of partygoers, out on the streets.

[00:03:35] At 1.20am on March 18th, one of the security guards on duty at the museum, a man called Rich Abath, heard the buzzer.

[00:03:46] He went to answer it.

[00:03:48] It’s the police, the voices said. We’ve had reports of a disturbance at the museum, and we have come to investigate.

[00:03:57] OK then, thought the security guard. 

[00:04:00] It’s St Patrick’s Day after all, so perhaps someone has had too much to drink and climbed over the walls. Anything could have happened, so Abath buzzed open the door.

[00:04:14] Sure enough, two men in police uniform came through the door.

[00:04:20] At this time Abath was sitting behind the security desk, the only place where there was a panic alarm button.

[00:04:29] The two men asked Abath if anyone else was in the museum. Abath responded that his colleague was upstairs, and the men asked Abath to use his radio to call his colleague down to them.

[00:04:45] At this point one of the policemen said that Abath looked familiar, and that there was a warrant out for his arrest. He asked Abath to come out from behind the desk and to show him his ID.

[00:05:00] Abath had noticed that one of the policemen had a moustache, but it was hanging at a strange angle, almost as if it were fake.

[00:05:12] In any case, Abath came out from behind the desk, approached the men, one of whom pushed him against the wall and put handcuffs on him, as if he was being arrested.

[00:05:25] Shortly after, the other guard, a man called Hestand, entered the room, and was immediately pushed against the wall and handcuffed.

[00:05:34] Then, one of the police officers announced calmly, “Gentlemen, this is a robbery.”

[00:05:42] They covered the two guards in duct-tape, that very strong sellotape, so that they couldn’t speak or see what was happening, and secured them to a downstairs radiator, so they couldn't move.

[00:05:58] Over the course of the next 81 minutes the thieves stole thirteen different pieces of art, which experts estimate would be worth up to $600 million. 

[00:06:11] Until the robbery of royal jewels at the Dresden Green Vault in 2019, it was the largest museum theft in terms of value of the stolen items.

[00:06:23] So, who did it, why, how did they get away with it, and what happened to these stolen works of art?

[00:06:32] Well, this is where it gets really interesting.

[00:06:35] The short answer is, apart from people who were directly involved, nobody knows for sure. 

[00:06:43] The plot thickens, it becomes even more mysterious, when you realise that a large proportion of the people who have been accused of being involved with the theft, and knowing where the paintings were taken, are now dead.

[00:06:59] So, let’s go through some of the evidence, and you can decide for yourself who you think might have been responsible for it.

[00:07:08] One of the first things that the police look at after any art theft is what was actually stolen.

[00:07:16] And with this particular theft, what was stolen, and how it was stolen was confusing.

[00:07:24] The thieves were evidently well prepared. They knew what they were doing, this wasn’t an opportunist crime.

[00:07:32] They immediately went to a room in the museum called The Dutch Room, where some of the museum’s most valuable, and most famous paintings were kept.

[00:07:44] The most valuable painting they took was a Vermeer called The Concert, which experts value at around $250 million dollars. It’s one of only 34 Vermeer paintings, and is thought to be the most expensive stolen piece of art in the world.

[00:08:04] They also took a Rembrandt painting called The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, which was his only seascape, his only painting of a sea scene, and worth around $100 million.

[00:08:18] Alongside these two incredibly valuable paintings, they took some other significantly less valuable works, including a Chinese bronze vase estimated to be worth only a few thousand dollars. 

[00:08:33] They also left behind some of the museum’s most valuable items, including works by Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Boticelli.

[00:08:43] It was strange because, on the one hand, they knew exactly where the Dutch Room was and went straight to it, but they left behind some of the museum’s most valuable works. 

[00:08:56] The robbery lasted 81 minutes, so they certainly weren’t in a rush. 

[00:09:02] Did they just not know the value of the other works, or was there some other reason for leaving them behind?

[00:09:10] What’s more, when taking the paintings, they cut them out of their frames, damaging and devaluing them.

[00:09:18] A more sophisticated thief would have known how to remove the painting causing minimal damage, and whether your intention is to sell them yourself, or deliver them to a private collector, you want them to remain in as good a condition as possible.

[00:09:37] So, this was slightly confusing.

[00:09:41] The next confusing, and perhaps suspicious, element of the case was the behaviour of the guards on the night.

[00:09:49] Both of the security guards on watch that night were young, inexperienced, students. The museum was short of money, and it would try to cut corners, to save costs, wherever it could.

[00:10:04] This included employing security guards who were inexperienced and, to put it bluntly, not very good at their jobs.

[00:10:13] Suspicion immediately fell on one of the guards, Rich Abath, the one who had initially buzzed the thieves in after they had said they were policemen.

[00:10:24] For starters, he shouldn’t have let them into the museum. 

[00:10:28] Neither he nor his colleague had called the police, so the first reaction when they arrived should have been to call the police station to check that the officers were legitimate, that they were real police officers. 

[00:10:42] Secondly, his behaviour on the night shortly before the robbery was suspicious. After walking around the gallery he went to a side door, a door to the street, and opened and closed it.

[00:10:57] Why? Was he signalling to the thieves who were waiting nearby?

[00:11:03] When Abath was questioned about this he said that this was something he did every night to make sure the alarm was working, but firstly this was against protocol, he shouldn’t have done it, and secondly there are no records of him having done this before.

[00:11:21] And thirdly, there was one work of art, a Manet, that went missing from a room called The Blue Room. 

[00:11:29] The motion sensors in the room don’t have any record of the two thieves entering that room; the only person who entered that room on the night of the robbery was...Abath.

[00:11:42] Most museum or gallery robberies have a person on the inside, an employee who helps with the theft, and the police thought this must have been Abath.

[00:11:53] But he was never actually arrested. To this day he maintains his innocence, he lives a quiet life with his wife and kids, and just says he was targeted because he was a hippy.

[00:12:07] So, who actually were the thieves, and why did they do it?

[00:12:12] Fingers were immediately pointed at Boston’s organised crime families, both Italian and Irish.

[00:12:19] They would have had the resources to pull a crime like this off, and the underground network to move the stolen works of art afterwards.

[00:12:30] They had plenty of reasons to commit this sort of crime.

[00:12:34] They could have simply wanted to sell it, for a quick infusion of money to buy drugs, weapons, or something like that.

[00:12:44] They might have wanted to use the works of art as a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card, so that when a boss was charged with other crimes he could use these stolen works of art as a bargaining chip in exchange for immunity.

[00:13:00] However the fact that nobody has ever used this get-out-of-jail-free card, despite plenty of suspects in the crime being put in jail, it suggests that this wasn’t the motive.

[00:13:15] It might even have been a “to order” job by an art-loving senior member of an organised crime family, but the clumsy nature of the theft, and the fact that the paintings would have been damaged when they were stolen, suggests this probably wasn’t the motive either.

[00:13:35] So, the FBI believes the motive was financial in some shape or form. 

[00:13:42] But to this date, none of the paintings have been recovered.

[00:13:47] Immediately after the theft there was a large reward for any information that led to their recovery.

[00:13:54] It started as a million dollars, then was increased to 5 million in 1997, and it currently stands at 10 million dollars. 

[00:14:05] A pretty tempting reward.

[00:14:08] Plus, the Statute of Limitations law means that the crime happened too long ago for the thieves to be prosecuted.

[00:14:17] So someone could come forward today, tell the FBI what happened and where the paintings are, and assuming that they were able to be recovered, they would collect $10 million dollars as a reward, and they might not have to spend a day in jail.

[00:14:36] But nobody has.

[00:14:39] Over the years there have been hundreds of leads, clues as to the whereabouts of the paintings and the identity of the people behind the robbery.

[00:14:50] In 1994, four years after the robbery, the director of the museum received an anonymous message from someone wanting to negotiate the return of the artwork. In this letter they provided information that only the museum and the FBI knew about: that the uniforms the thieves had worn as disguises had not actually been those of police officers but rather of security guards.

[00:15:20] It seemed credible, it seemed believable. 

[00:15:23] The author of the letter said that they were not the thief, and they didn’t know who actually did it. All they wanted was a resolution to the problem, and to be paid $2.6 million dollars as a reward.

[00:15:39] As a condition of cooperation, they wanted investigators to stop looking into it while negotiations were taking place.

[00:15:48] If the museum accepted these terms, it needed to send a coded message to the author of the letter via the Boston Globe, a newspaper. 

[00:16:00] The author gave specific instructions about how to do this: the number “1” needed to be inserted into the box with currency exchanges, the box specifying how many British pounds, Japanese yen, and Italian lira you would get for a US dollar.

[00:16:19] The museum decided to cooperate, and federal agents stood down while this was all taking place, they said they would pause their investigations.

[00:16:30] The editor of The Boston Globe agreed to help, and sure enough, it published this number “1” in the currency box, indicating that the museum was willing to negotiate. 

[00:16:43] The author of the letter saw the secret message in the newspaper, and sent another letter to the gallery. 

[00:16:50] They were encouraged that the museum wanted to cooperate, but said that investigators hadn’t actually stepped down, they were in fact looking into the case more intently

[00:17:04] The author would need more time to think, and would contact the museum again.

[00:17:09] But that was the last the museum ever heard from them.

[00:17:14] In another hot lead, a journalist from the Boston Herald was called up in the middle of the night by a man called William P. Youngworth, an antiques dealer with links to organised criminals.

[00:17:29] Youngworth told the journalist that he knew where the paintings were, and could prove it to him.

[00:17:35] In the middle of the night they went to a storage unit, and he pulled out a canvas from inside a tube.

[00:17:44] It was dark, and the journalist didn’t get a proper look at it, but it seemed to be The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, the Rembrandt valued at $100 million. The edges of the painting were frayed, as if it had been cut from a frame, and the paint was cracking

[00:18:05] It certainly seemed like it could be one of the stolen paintings.

[00:18:10] Youngworth also provided chips of paint to analyse, chips that he said would prove this was the Rembrant.

[00:18:19] The chips were taken to the lab.

[00:18:22] They were indeed from the 17th century when the painting was done, but they weren't from The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. 

[00:18:30] It wasn't a match.

[00:18:32] But, they could have been from The Concert, the Vermeer painting valued at $250 million, the colours were consistent with part of that painting.

[00:18:44] Youngworth said he would only cooperate with the authorities if he was offered full immunity for himself, and the release from jail of another art thief. 

[00:18:56] The FBI wouldn’t accept this, and negotiations stalled

[00:19:02] They managed to find the location of the storage unit a few months after, but after it was raided nothing was found. Youngworth has now completely stopped cooperating with the police.

[00:19:15] In 2013 though, there seemed to be a breakthrough. The FBI announced that they believed they knew the identities of the people who had robbed the museum, but they had both died shortly after the theft, and they were relatively low level thieves, they would have been acting on the orders of someone else.

[00:19:37] And, most importantly, that the paintings were still nowhere to be found.

[00:19:43] Another factor that has complicated the inquiry was corruption within the Boston police.

[00:19:50] It was revealed in the late 1990s that one of Boston’s most infamous crime bosses, a man called Whitey Bulger, had been providing information to the FBI about his rival crime bosses since the mid 1970s. He was both an FBI informant and a major crime boss. 

[00:20:11] He had also managed to corrupt several FBI officers, meaning that he was being provided with information about ongoing investigations, including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery. 

[00:20:25] If he was involved in the robbery, and he is believed to have been involved by multiple investigators, he would always have been one step ahead of the authorities, he would have known what the police were doing. 

[00:20:39] One theory has it that he either organised the entire robbery or bought the paintings from the thieves for a reduced price, and then arranged for the paintings to be sent to western Ireland, perhaps even to be guarded by the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. 

[00:20:59] He might have intended for them to be used as a bargaining chip, as something to use in negotiations with the police, or even it might have been a present to the IRA after a weapons shipment he had sent them was intercepted by the Irish army in 1994.

[00:21:16] If Bulger was involved, he took his secret to the grave with him. 

[00:21:22] He had been in prison since 2011, and then in 2019, hours after being transferred to another prison, and aged 89 he was violently murdered by inmates linked to an Italian crime family. 

[00:21:39] Indeed, almost all of the people who have been implicated in the crime have now died, most of them of unnatural causes, they have all been murdered.

[00:21:51] One, however, remains.

[00:21:53] A man called Robert Gentile, another Boston crime boss, was accused of having been given the paintings for safekeeping, to look after.

[00:22:03] He was questioned by police, but has always denied their existence.

[00:22:09] The police didn’t believe him, and raided his house. They dug up his garden, looked everywhere, but the only sign they found was a list of the paintings, complete with their estimated value next to them. 

[00:22:24] Obviously, this did nothing to help persuade investigators of his innocence.

[00:22:30] Gentile is now 84 years old, and his health is failing.

[00:22:35] He still denies any involvement, and investigators are fearful that he will take the secret of The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery to the grave with him. 

[00:22:47] That being said, the investigations are still open, the reward is still $10 million, and investigators are hopeful that this will be enough to attract someone, somewhere, to come forward and spill the beans, to reveal the location of the stolen artwork.

[00:23:06] If and when they do, the good news is that the frames at the museum are still there, in exactly the same position as the night of the robbery, almost as if they were waiting for the paintings to return.

[00:23:21] Ok then, there we have it, the mystery of The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery, one of the greatest art thefts of all time.

[00:23:32] I hope it's been an interesting one, that you've learnt something new, and perhaps you’ve listened to this and decided you might know who is behind this robbery.

[00:23:41] Who knows, by the time you listen to this episode, perhaps the case might even be solved.

[00:23:47] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:23:51] Who do you think was behind it? Do you think the pieces will ever be returned? 

[00:23:56] And what did you think of this mini-series on Art Theft? 

[00:24:00] I would love to know, so let’s get the discussion started.

[00:24:04] The place for that is our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:24:10] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:15] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]




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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today is part three of our three-part series on Art Theft.

[00:00:29] In part one we heard about five of the most famous art thefts of all time, from the theft of the Mona Lisa by an Italian handyman to the time when two university dropouts successfully managed to relieve Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology and History of a billion dollars worth of art.

[00:00:51] Then, in part two we learned about a Frenchman called Stéphane Breitwieser, who by many people’s standards was, and still is, the greatest art thief of all time. 

[00:01:03] So in today’s episode we have saved the best for last, the robbery of The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

[00:01:13] It is a story that has puzzled detectives for over 30 years now, and will involve the Irish and Italian mob, the FBI, a hippy, a 19th century socialite art collector, the IRA, fake police officers, dodgy art dealers, and more. 

[00:01:33] It is quite the story, so let’s get right into it.

[00:01:38] For tourists to Boston, Massachusetts, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is one of the most popular attractions.

[00:01:47] It was built in 1899, the brainchild of a wealthy American lady called Isabella Stewart Gardner. 

[00:01:56] From the outside, it might look like nothing special, a large brick building.

[00:02:03] But upon entering it, visitors are amazed by the interior - it looks like a Venetian palace, complete with a large courtyard and monumental arches.

[00:02:16] It is filled with the private collection of this wealthy lady, Isabella Stewart Gardner, who wanted what was her house to be turned into a museum open to the public after her death. 

[00:02:30] It contains beautiful works of art: Rembrandt, Bellinis, Titians, and more.

[00:02:37] As you stroll through the rooms, admiring the beautiful works of art, you will notice something even more surprising. 

[00:02:46] There are 13 frames that are completely empty, the paintings inside them gone.

[00:02:54] They have been left there as a reminder of the events of March 18th 1990, and what was until recently the largest art robbery of all time.

[00:03:07] March the 17th, as you may know, is St Patrick’s Day, an important day of celebration in Ireland, and for people with Irish ancestry.

[00:03:19] Boston is one of the cities in the United States with the largest Irish population, and therefore on the evening of the 17th of March there were plenty of revellers, plenty of partygoers, out on the streets.

[00:03:35] At 1.20am on March 18th, one of the security guards on duty at the museum, a man called Rich Abath, heard the buzzer.

[00:03:46] He went to answer it.

[00:03:48] It’s the police, the voices said. We’ve had reports of a disturbance at the museum, and we have come to investigate.

[00:03:57] OK then, thought the security guard. 

[00:04:00] It’s St Patrick’s Day after all, so perhaps someone has had too much to drink and climbed over the walls. Anything could have happened, so Abath buzzed open the door.

[00:04:14] Sure enough, two men in police uniform came through the door.

[00:04:20] At this time Abath was sitting behind the security desk, the only place where there was a panic alarm button.

[00:04:29] The two men asked Abath if anyone else was in the museum. Abath responded that his colleague was upstairs, and the men asked Abath to use his radio to call his colleague down to them.

[00:04:45] At this point one of the policemen said that Abath looked familiar, and that there was a warrant out for his arrest. He asked Abath to come out from behind the desk and to show him his ID.

[00:05:00] Abath had noticed that one of the policemen had a moustache, but it was hanging at a strange angle, almost as if it were fake.

[00:05:12] In any case, Abath came out from behind the desk, approached the men, one of whom pushed him against the wall and put handcuffs on him, as if he was being arrested.

[00:05:25] Shortly after, the other guard, a man called Hestand, entered the room, and was immediately pushed against the wall and handcuffed.

[00:05:34] Then, one of the police officers announced calmly, “Gentlemen, this is a robbery.”

[00:05:42] They covered the two guards in duct-tape, that very strong sellotape, so that they couldn’t speak or see what was happening, and secured them to a downstairs radiator, so they couldn't move.

[00:05:58] Over the course of the next 81 minutes the thieves stole thirteen different pieces of art, which experts estimate would be worth up to $600 million. 

[00:06:11] Until the robbery of royal jewels at the Dresden Green Vault in 2019, it was the largest museum theft in terms of value of the stolen items.

[00:06:23] So, who did it, why, how did they get away with it, and what happened to these stolen works of art?

[00:06:32] Well, this is where it gets really interesting.

[00:06:35] The short answer is, apart from people who were directly involved, nobody knows for sure. 

[00:06:43] The plot thickens, it becomes even more mysterious, when you realise that a large proportion of the people who have been accused of being involved with the theft, and knowing where the paintings were taken, are now dead.

[00:06:59] So, let’s go through some of the evidence, and you can decide for yourself who you think might have been responsible for it.

[00:07:08] One of the first things that the police look at after any art theft is what was actually stolen.

[00:07:16] And with this particular theft, what was stolen, and how it was stolen was confusing.

[00:07:24] The thieves were evidently well prepared. They knew what they were doing, this wasn’t an opportunist crime.

[00:07:32] They immediately went to a room in the museum called The Dutch Room, where some of the museum’s most valuable, and most famous paintings were kept.

[00:07:44] The most valuable painting they took was a Vermeer called The Concert, which experts value at around $250 million dollars. It’s one of only 34 Vermeer paintings, and is thought to be the most expensive stolen piece of art in the world.

[00:08:04] They also took a Rembrandt painting called The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, which was his only seascape, his only painting of a sea scene, and worth around $100 million.

[00:08:18] Alongside these two incredibly valuable paintings, they took some other significantly less valuable works, including a Chinese bronze vase estimated to be worth only a few thousand dollars. 

[00:08:33] They also left behind some of the museum’s most valuable items, including works by Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Boticelli.

[00:08:43] It was strange because, on the one hand, they knew exactly where the Dutch Room was and went straight to it, but they left behind some of the museum’s most valuable works. 

[00:08:56] The robbery lasted 81 minutes, so they certainly weren’t in a rush. 

[00:09:02] Did they just not know the value of the other works, or was there some other reason for leaving them behind?

[00:09:10] What’s more, when taking the paintings, they cut them out of their frames, damaging and devaluing them.

[00:09:18] A more sophisticated thief would have known how to remove the painting causing minimal damage, and whether your intention is to sell them yourself, or deliver them to a private collector, you want them to remain in as good a condition as possible.

[00:09:37] So, this was slightly confusing.

[00:09:41] The next confusing, and perhaps suspicious, element of the case was the behaviour of the guards on the night.

[00:09:49] Both of the security guards on watch that night were young, inexperienced, students. The museum was short of money, and it would try to cut corners, to save costs, wherever it could.

[00:10:04] This included employing security guards who were inexperienced and, to put it bluntly, not very good at their jobs.

[00:10:13] Suspicion immediately fell on one of the guards, Rich Abath, the one who had initially buzzed the thieves in after they had said they were policemen.

[00:10:24] For starters, he shouldn’t have let them into the museum. 

[00:10:28] Neither he nor his colleague had called the police, so the first reaction when they arrived should have been to call the police station to check that the officers were legitimate, that they were real police officers. 

[00:10:42] Secondly, his behaviour on the night shortly before the robbery was suspicious. After walking around the gallery he went to a side door, a door to the street, and opened and closed it.

[00:10:57] Why? Was he signalling to the thieves who were waiting nearby?

[00:11:03] When Abath was questioned about this he said that this was something he did every night to make sure the alarm was working, but firstly this was against protocol, he shouldn’t have done it, and secondly there are no records of him having done this before.

[00:11:21] And thirdly, there was one work of art, a Manet, that went missing from a room called The Blue Room. 

[00:11:29] The motion sensors in the room don’t have any record of the two thieves entering that room; the only person who entered that room on the night of the robbery was...Abath.

[00:11:42] Most museum or gallery robberies have a person on the inside, an employee who helps with the theft, and the police thought this must have been Abath.

[00:11:53] But he was never actually arrested. To this day he maintains his innocence, he lives a quiet life with his wife and kids, and just says he was targeted because he was a hippy.

[00:12:07] So, who actually were the thieves, and why did they do it?

[00:12:12] Fingers were immediately pointed at Boston’s organised crime families, both Italian and Irish.

[00:12:19] They would have had the resources to pull a crime like this off, and the underground network to move the stolen works of art afterwards.

[00:12:30] They had plenty of reasons to commit this sort of crime.

[00:12:34] They could have simply wanted to sell it, for a quick infusion of money to buy drugs, weapons, or something like that.

[00:12:44] They might have wanted to use the works of art as a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card, so that when a boss was charged with other crimes he could use these stolen works of art as a bargaining chip in exchange for immunity.

[00:13:00] However the fact that nobody has ever used this get-out-of-jail-free card, despite plenty of suspects in the crime being put in jail, it suggests that this wasn’t the motive.

[00:13:15] It might even have been a “to order” job by an art-loving senior member of an organised crime family, but the clumsy nature of the theft, and the fact that the paintings would have been damaged when they were stolen, suggests this probably wasn’t the motive either.

[00:13:35] So, the FBI believes the motive was financial in some shape or form. 

[00:13:42] But to this date, none of the paintings have been recovered.

[00:13:47] Immediately after the theft there was a large reward for any information that led to their recovery.

[00:13:54] It started as a million dollars, then was increased to 5 million in 1997, and it currently stands at 10 million dollars. 

[00:14:05] A pretty tempting reward.

[00:14:08] Plus, the Statute of Limitations law means that the crime happened too long ago for the thieves to be prosecuted.

[00:14:17] So someone could come forward today, tell the FBI what happened and where the paintings are, and assuming that they were able to be recovered, they would collect $10 million dollars as a reward, and they might not have to spend a day in jail.

[00:14:36] But nobody has.

[00:14:39] Over the years there have been hundreds of leads, clues as to the whereabouts of the paintings and the identity of the people behind the robbery.

[00:14:50] In 1994, four years after the robbery, the director of the museum received an anonymous message from someone wanting to negotiate the return of the artwork. In this letter they provided information that only the museum and the FBI knew about: that the uniforms the thieves had worn as disguises had not actually been those of police officers but rather of security guards.

[00:15:20] It seemed credible, it seemed believable. 

[00:15:23] The author of the letter said that they were not the thief, and they didn’t know who actually did it. All they wanted was a resolution to the problem, and to be paid $2.6 million dollars as a reward.

[00:15:39] As a condition of cooperation, they wanted investigators to stop looking into it while negotiations were taking place.

[00:15:48] If the museum accepted these terms, it needed to send a coded message to the author of the letter via the Boston Globe, a newspaper. 

[00:16:00] The author gave specific instructions about how to do this: the number “1” needed to be inserted into the box with currency exchanges, the box specifying how many British pounds, Japanese yen, and Italian lira you would get for a US dollar.

[00:16:19] The museum decided to cooperate, and federal agents stood down while this was all taking place, they said they would pause their investigations.

[00:16:30] The editor of The Boston Globe agreed to help, and sure enough, it published this number “1” in the currency box, indicating that the museum was willing to negotiate. 

[00:16:43] The author of the letter saw the secret message in the newspaper, and sent another letter to the gallery. 

[00:16:50] They were encouraged that the museum wanted to cooperate, but said that investigators hadn’t actually stepped down, they were in fact looking into the case more intently

[00:17:04] The author would need more time to think, and would contact the museum again.

[00:17:09] But that was the last the museum ever heard from them.

[00:17:14] In another hot lead, a journalist from the Boston Herald was called up in the middle of the night by a man called William P. Youngworth, an antiques dealer with links to organised criminals.

[00:17:29] Youngworth told the journalist that he knew where the paintings were, and could prove it to him.

[00:17:35] In the middle of the night they went to a storage unit, and he pulled out a canvas from inside a tube.

[00:17:44] It was dark, and the journalist didn’t get a proper look at it, but it seemed to be The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, the Rembrandt valued at $100 million. The edges of the painting were frayed, as if it had been cut from a frame, and the paint was cracking

[00:18:05] It certainly seemed like it could be one of the stolen paintings.

[00:18:10] Youngworth also provided chips of paint to analyse, chips that he said would prove this was the Rembrant.

[00:18:19] The chips were taken to the lab.

[00:18:22] They were indeed from the 17th century when the painting was done, but they weren't from The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. 

[00:18:30] It wasn't a match.

[00:18:32] But, they could have been from The Concert, the Vermeer painting valued at $250 million, the colours were consistent with part of that painting.

[00:18:44] Youngworth said he would only cooperate with the authorities if he was offered full immunity for himself, and the release from jail of another art thief. 

[00:18:56] The FBI wouldn’t accept this, and negotiations stalled

[00:19:02] They managed to find the location of the storage unit a few months after, but after it was raided nothing was found. Youngworth has now completely stopped cooperating with the police.

[00:19:15] In 2013 though, there seemed to be a breakthrough. The FBI announced that they believed they knew the identities of the people who had robbed the museum, but they had both died shortly after the theft, and they were relatively low level thieves, they would have been acting on the orders of someone else.

[00:19:37] And, most importantly, that the paintings were still nowhere to be found.

[00:19:43] Another factor that has complicated the inquiry was corruption within the Boston police.

[00:19:50] It was revealed in the late 1990s that one of Boston’s most infamous crime bosses, a man called Whitey Bulger, had been providing information to the FBI about his rival crime bosses since the mid 1970s. He was both an FBI informant and a major crime boss. 

[00:20:11] He had also managed to corrupt several FBI officers, meaning that he was being provided with information about ongoing investigations, including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery. 

[00:20:25] If he was involved in the robbery, and he is believed to have been involved by multiple investigators, he would always have been one step ahead of the authorities, he would have known what the police were doing. 

[00:20:39] One theory has it that he either organised the entire robbery or bought the paintings from the thieves for a reduced price, and then arranged for the paintings to be sent to western Ireland, perhaps even to be guarded by the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. 

[00:20:59] He might have intended for them to be used as a bargaining chip, as something to use in negotiations with the police, or even it might have been a present to the IRA after a weapons shipment he had sent them was intercepted by the Irish army in 1994.

[00:21:16] If Bulger was involved, he took his secret to the grave with him. 

[00:21:22] He had been in prison since 2011, and then in 2019, hours after being transferred to another prison, and aged 89 he was violently murdered by inmates linked to an Italian crime family. 

[00:21:39] Indeed, almost all of the people who have been implicated in the crime have now died, most of them of unnatural causes, they have all been murdered.

[00:21:51] One, however, remains.

[00:21:53] A man called Robert Gentile, another Boston crime boss, was accused of having been given the paintings for safekeeping, to look after.

[00:22:03] He was questioned by police, but has always denied their existence.

[00:22:09] The police didn’t believe him, and raided his house. They dug up his garden, looked everywhere, but the only sign they found was a list of the paintings, complete with their estimated value next to them. 

[00:22:24] Obviously, this did nothing to help persuade investigators of his innocence.

[00:22:30] Gentile is now 84 years old, and his health is failing.

[00:22:35] He still denies any involvement, and investigators are fearful that he will take the secret of The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery to the grave with him. 

[00:22:47] That being said, the investigations are still open, the reward is still $10 million, and investigators are hopeful that this will be enough to attract someone, somewhere, to come forward and spill the beans, to reveal the location of the stolen artwork.

[00:23:06] If and when they do, the good news is that the frames at the museum are still there, in exactly the same position as the night of the robbery, almost as if they were waiting for the paintings to return.

[00:23:21] Ok then, there we have it, the mystery of The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery, one of the greatest art thefts of all time.

[00:23:32] I hope it's been an interesting one, that you've learnt something new, and perhaps you’ve listened to this and decided you might know who is behind this robbery.

[00:23:41] Who knows, by the time you listen to this episode, perhaps the case might even be solved.

[00:23:47] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:23:51] Who do you think was behind it? Do you think the pieces will ever be returned? 

[00:23:56] And what did you think of this mini-series on Art Theft? 

[00:24:00] I would love to know, so let’s get the discussion started.

[00:24:04] The place for that is our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:24:10] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:15] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]




[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today is part three of our three-part series on Art Theft.

[00:00:29] In part one we heard about five of the most famous art thefts of all time, from the theft of the Mona Lisa by an Italian handyman to the time when two university dropouts successfully managed to relieve Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology and History of a billion dollars worth of art.

[00:00:51] Then, in part two we learned about a Frenchman called Stéphane Breitwieser, who by many people’s standards was, and still is, the greatest art thief of all time. 

[00:01:03] So in today’s episode we have saved the best for last, the robbery of The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

[00:01:13] It is a story that has puzzled detectives for over 30 years now, and will involve the Irish and Italian mob, the FBI, a hippy, a 19th century socialite art collector, the IRA, fake police officers, dodgy art dealers, and more. 

[00:01:33] It is quite the story, so let’s get right into it.

[00:01:38] For tourists to Boston, Massachusetts, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is one of the most popular attractions.

[00:01:47] It was built in 1899, the brainchild of a wealthy American lady called Isabella Stewart Gardner. 

[00:01:56] From the outside, it might look like nothing special, a large brick building.

[00:02:03] But upon entering it, visitors are amazed by the interior - it looks like a Venetian palace, complete with a large courtyard and monumental arches.

[00:02:16] It is filled with the private collection of this wealthy lady, Isabella Stewart Gardner, who wanted what was her house to be turned into a museum open to the public after her death. 

[00:02:30] It contains beautiful works of art: Rembrandt, Bellinis, Titians, and more.

[00:02:37] As you stroll through the rooms, admiring the beautiful works of art, you will notice something even more surprising. 

[00:02:46] There are 13 frames that are completely empty, the paintings inside them gone.

[00:02:54] They have been left there as a reminder of the events of March 18th 1990, and what was until recently the largest art robbery of all time.

[00:03:07] March the 17th, as you may know, is St Patrick’s Day, an important day of celebration in Ireland, and for people with Irish ancestry.

[00:03:19] Boston is one of the cities in the United States with the largest Irish population, and therefore on the evening of the 17th of March there were plenty of revellers, plenty of partygoers, out on the streets.

[00:03:35] At 1.20am on March 18th, one of the security guards on duty at the museum, a man called Rich Abath, heard the buzzer.

[00:03:46] He went to answer it.

[00:03:48] It’s the police, the voices said. We’ve had reports of a disturbance at the museum, and we have come to investigate.

[00:03:57] OK then, thought the security guard. 

[00:04:00] It’s St Patrick’s Day after all, so perhaps someone has had too much to drink and climbed over the walls. Anything could have happened, so Abath buzzed open the door.

[00:04:14] Sure enough, two men in police uniform came through the door.

[00:04:20] At this time Abath was sitting behind the security desk, the only place where there was a panic alarm button.

[00:04:29] The two men asked Abath if anyone else was in the museum. Abath responded that his colleague was upstairs, and the men asked Abath to use his radio to call his colleague down to them.

[00:04:45] At this point one of the policemen said that Abath looked familiar, and that there was a warrant out for his arrest. He asked Abath to come out from behind the desk and to show him his ID.

[00:05:00] Abath had noticed that one of the policemen had a moustache, but it was hanging at a strange angle, almost as if it were fake.

[00:05:12] In any case, Abath came out from behind the desk, approached the men, one of whom pushed him against the wall and put handcuffs on him, as if he was being arrested.

[00:05:25] Shortly after, the other guard, a man called Hestand, entered the room, and was immediately pushed against the wall and handcuffed.

[00:05:34] Then, one of the police officers announced calmly, “Gentlemen, this is a robbery.”

[00:05:42] They covered the two guards in duct-tape, that very strong sellotape, so that they couldn’t speak or see what was happening, and secured them to a downstairs radiator, so they couldn't move.

[00:05:58] Over the course of the next 81 minutes the thieves stole thirteen different pieces of art, which experts estimate would be worth up to $600 million. 

[00:06:11] Until the robbery of royal jewels at the Dresden Green Vault in 2019, it was the largest museum theft in terms of value of the stolen items.

[00:06:23] So, who did it, why, how did they get away with it, and what happened to these stolen works of art?

[00:06:32] Well, this is where it gets really interesting.

[00:06:35] The short answer is, apart from people who were directly involved, nobody knows for sure. 

[00:06:43] The plot thickens, it becomes even more mysterious, when you realise that a large proportion of the people who have been accused of being involved with the theft, and knowing where the paintings were taken, are now dead.

[00:06:59] So, let’s go through some of the evidence, and you can decide for yourself who you think might have been responsible for it.

[00:07:08] One of the first things that the police look at after any art theft is what was actually stolen.

[00:07:16] And with this particular theft, what was stolen, and how it was stolen was confusing.

[00:07:24] The thieves were evidently well prepared. They knew what they were doing, this wasn’t an opportunist crime.

[00:07:32] They immediately went to a room in the museum called The Dutch Room, where some of the museum’s most valuable, and most famous paintings were kept.

[00:07:44] The most valuable painting they took was a Vermeer called The Concert, which experts value at around $250 million dollars. It’s one of only 34 Vermeer paintings, and is thought to be the most expensive stolen piece of art in the world.

[00:08:04] They also took a Rembrandt painting called The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, which was his only seascape, his only painting of a sea scene, and worth around $100 million.

[00:08:18] Alongside these two incredibly valuable paintings, they took some other significantly less valuable works, including a Chinese bronze vase estimated to be worth only a few thousand dollars. 

[00:08:33] They also left behind some of the museum’s most valuable items, including works by Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Boticelli.

[00:08:43] It was strange because, on the one hand, they knew exactly where the Dutch Room was and went straight to it, but they left behind some of the museum’s most valuable works. 

[00:08:56] The robbery lasted 81 minutes, so they certainly weren’t in a rush. 

[00:09:02] Did they just not know the value of the other works, or was there some other reason for leaving them behind?

[00:09:10] What’s more, when taking the paintings, they cut them out of their frames, damaging and devaluing them.

[00:09:18] A more sophisticated thief would have known how to remove the painting causing minimal damage, and whether your intention is to sell them yourself, or deliver them to a private collector, you want them to remain in as good a condition as possible.

[00:09:37] So, this was slightly confusing.

[00:09:41] The next confusing, and perhaps suspicious, element of the case was the behaviour of the guards on the night.

[00:09:49] Both of the security guards on watch that night were young, inexperienced, students. The museum was short of money, and it would try to cut corners, to save costs, wherever it could.

[00:10:04] This included employing security guards who were inexperienced and, to put it bluntly, not very good at their jobs.

[00:10:13] Suspicion immediately fell on one of the guards, Rich Abath, the one who had initially buzzed the thieves in after they had said they were policemen.

[00:10:24] For starters, he shouldn’t have let them into the museum. 

[00:10:28] Neither he nor his colleague had called the police, so the first reaction when they arrived should have been to call the police station to check that the officers were legitimate, that they were real police officers. 

[00:10:42] Secondly, his behaviour on the night shortly before the robbery was suspicious. After walking around the gallery he went to a side door, a door to the street, and opened and closed it.

[00:10:57] Why? Was he signalling to the thieves who were waiting nearby?

[00:11:03] When Abath was questioned about this he said that this was something he did every night to make sure the alarm was working, but firstly this was against protocol, he shouldn’t have done it, and secondly there are no records of him having done this before.

[00:11:21] And thirdly, there was one work of art, a Manet, that went missing from a room called The Blue Room. 

[00:11:29] The motion sensors in the room don’t have any record of the two thieves entering that room; the only person who entered that room on the night of the robbery was...Abath.

[00:11:42] Most museum or gallery robberies have a person on the inside, an employee who helps with the theft, and the police thought this must have been Abath.

[00:11:53] But he was never actually arrested. To this day he maintains his innocence, he lives a quiet life with his wife and kids, and just says he was targeted because he was a hippy.

[00:12:07] So, who actually were the thieves, and why did they do it?

[00:12:12] Fingers were immediately pointed at Boston’s organised crime families, both Italian and Irish.

[00:12:19] They would have had the resources to pull a crime like this off, and the underground network to move the stolen works of art afterwards.

[00:12:30] They had plenty of reasons to commit this sort of crime.

[00:12:34] They could have simply wanted to sell it, for a quick infusion of money to buy drugs, weapons, or something like that.

[00:12:44] They might have wanted to use the works of art as a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card, so that when a boss was charged with other crimes he could use these stolen works of art as a bargaining chip in exchange for immunity.

[00:13:00] However the fact that nobody has ever used this get-out-of-jail-free card, despite plenty of suspects in the crime being put in jail, it suggests that this wasn’t the motive.

[00:13:15] It might even have been a “to order” job by an art-loving senior member of an organised crime family, but the clumsy nature of the theft, and the fact that the paintings would have been damaged when they were stolen, suggests this probably wasn’t the motive either.

[00:13:35] So, the FBI believes the motive was financial in some shape or form. 

[00:13:42] But to this date, none of the paintings have been recovered.

[00:13:47] Immediately after the theft there was a large reward for any information that led to their recovery.

[00:13:54] It started as a million dollars, then was increased to 5 million in 1997, and it currently stands at 10 million dollars. 

[00:14:05] A pretty tempting reward.

[00:14:08] Plus, the Statute of Limitations law means that the crime happened too long ago for the thieves to be prosecuted.

[00:14:17] So someone could come forward today, tell the FBI what happened and where the paintings are, and assuming that they were able to be recovered, they would collect $10 million dollars as a reward, and they might not have to spend a day in jail.

[00:14:36] But nobody has.

[00:14:39] Over the years there have been hundreds of leads, clues as to the whereabouts of the paintings and the identity of the people behind the robbery.

[00:14:50] In 1994, four years after the robbery, the director of the museum received an anonymous message from someone wanting to negotiate the return of the artwork. In this letter they provided information that only the museum and the FBI knew about: that the uniforms the thieves had worn as disguises had not actually been those of police officers but rather of security guards.

[00:15:20] It seemed credible, it seemed believable. 

[00:15:23] The author of the letter said that they were not the thief, and they didn’t know who actually did it. All they wanted was a resolution to the problem, and to be paid $2.6 million dollars as a reward.

[00:15:39] As a condition of cooperation, they wanted investigators to stop looking into it while negotiations were taking place.

[00:15:48] If the museum accepted these terms, it needed to send a coded message to the author of the letter via the Boston Globe, a newspaper. 

[00:16:00] The author gave specific instructions about how to do this: the number “1” needed to be inserted into the box with currency exchanges, the box specifying how many British pounds, Japanese yen, and Italian lira you would get for a US dollar.

[00:16:19] The museum decided to cooperate, and federal agents stood down while this was all taking place, they said they would pause their investigations.

[00:16:30] The editor of The Boston Globe agreed to help, and sure enough, it published this number “1” in the currency box, indicating that the museum was willing to negotiate. 

[00:16:43] The author of the letter saw the secret message in the newspaper, and sent another letter to the gallery. 

[00:16:50] They were encouraged that the museum wanted to cooperate, but said that investigators hadn’t actually stepped down, they were in fact looking into the case more intently

[00:17:04] The author would need more time to think, and would contact the museum again.

[00:17:09] But that was the last the museum ever heard from them.

[00:17:14] In another hot lead, a journalist from the Boston Herald was called up in the middle of the night by a man called William P. Youngworth, an antiques dealer with links to organised criminals.

[00:17:29] Youngworth told the journalist that he knew where the paintings were, and could prove it to him.

[00:17:35] In the middle of the night they went to a storage unit, and he pulled out a canvas from inside a tube.

[00:17:44] It was dark, and the journalist didn’t get a proper look at it, but it seemed to be The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, the Rembrandt valued at $100 million. The edges of the painting were frayed, as if it had been cut from a frame, and the paint was cracking

[00:18:05] It certainly seemed like it could be one of the stolen paintings.

[00:18:10] Youngworth also provided chips of paint to analyse, chips that he said would prove this was the Rembrant.

[00:18:19] The chips were taken to the lab.

[00:18:22] They were indeed from the 17th century when the painting was done, but they weren't from The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. 

[00:18:30] It wasn't a match.

[00:18:32] But, they could have been from The Concert, the Vermeer painting valued at $250 million, the colours were consistent with part of that painting.

[00:18:44] Youngworth said he would only cooperate with the authorities if he was offered full immunity for himself, and the release from jail of another art thief. 

[00:18:56] The FBI wouldn’t accept this, and negotiations stalled

[00:19:02] They managed to find the location of the storage unit a few months after, but after it was raided nothing was found. Youngworth has now completely stopped cooperating with the police.

[00:19:15] In 2013 though, there seemed to be a breakthrough. The FBI announced that they believed they knew the identities of the people who had robbed the museum, but they had both died shortly after the theft, and they were relatively low level thieves, they would have been acting on the orders of someone else.

[00:19:37] And, most importantly, that the paintings were still nowhere to be found.

[00:19:43] Another factor that has complicated the inquiry was corruption within the Boston police.

[00:19:50] It was revealed in the late 1990s that one of Boston’s most infamous crime bosses, a man called Whitey Bulger, had been providing information to the FBI about his rival crime bosses since the mid 1970s. He was both an FBI informant and a major crime boss. 

[00:20:11] He had also managed to corrupt several FBI officers, meaning that he was being provided with information about ongoing investigations, including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery. 

[00:20:25] If he was involved in the robbery, and he is believed to have been involved by multiple investigators, he would always have been one step ahead of the authorities, he would have known what the police were doing. 

[00:20:39] One theory has it that he either organised the entire robbery or bought the paintings from the thieves for a reduced price, and then arranged for the paintings to be sent to western Ireland, perhaps even to be guarded by the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. 

[00:20:59] He might have intended for them to be used as a bargaining chip, as something to use in negotiations with the police, or even it might have been a present to the IRA after a weapons shipment he had sent them was intercepted by the Irish army in 1994.

[00:21:16] If Bulger was involved, he took his secret to the grave with him. 

[00:21:22] He had been in prison since 2011, and then in 2019, hours after being transferred to another prison, and aged 89 he was violently murdered by inmates linked to an Italian crime family. 

[00:21:39] Indeed, almost all of the people who have been implicated in the crime have now died, most of them of unnatural causes, they have all been murdered.

[00:21:51] One, however, remains.

[00:21:53] A man called Robert Gentile, another Boston crime boss, was accused of having been given the paintings for safekeeping, to look after.

[00:22:03] He was questioned by police, but has always denied their existence.

[00:22:09] The police didn’t believe him, and raided his house. They dug up his garden, looked everywhere, but the only sign they found was a list of the paintings, complete with their estimated value next to them. 

[00:22:24] Obviously, this did nothing to help persuade investigators of his innocence.

[00:22:30] Gentile is now 84 years old, and his health is failing.

[00:22:35] He still denies any involvement, and investigators are fearful that he will take the secret of The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery to the grave with him. 

[00:22:47] That being said, the investigations are still open, the reward is still $10 million, and investigators are hopeful that this will be enough to attract someone, somewhere, to come forward and spill the beans, to reveal the location of the stolen artwork.

[00:23:06] If and when they do, the good news is that the frames at the museum are still there, in exactly the same position as the night of the robbery, almost as if they were waiting for the paintings to return.

[00:23:21] Ok then, there we have it, the mystery of The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery, one of the greatest art thefts of all time.

[00:23:32] I hope it's been an interesting one, that you've learnt something new, and perhaps you’ve listened to this and decided you might know who is behind this robbery.

[00:23:41] Who knows, by the time you listen to this episode, perhaps the case might even be solved.

[00:23:47] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:23:51] Who do you think was behind it? Do you think the pieces will ever be returned? 

[00:23:56] And what did you think of this mini-series on Art Theft? 

[00:24:00] I would love to know, so let’s get the discussion started.

[00:24:04] The place for that is our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:24:10] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:15] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]