Who is this man? Grainy footage could solve $500m art heist

Even by the standards of 25-year-old security video, it's grainy and indistinct. But if someone can identify the man visiting Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, federal investigators could solve a $500m art theft that's kept them in the dark for decades.

Despite being one of the most epic heists in history, the statute of limitations has long passed. The culprits will not face prosecution.

Storm-on-the-SeaBut investigators hope that given this immunity, they can help track down the art they stole decades ago—or give it up, if they were never able to offload it.

The video's mystery man, seen being given midnight rear-entry access to the Museum by a security guard on March 17, 1990, appears to be in his 60s. A day later, two men wearing police uniformes were admitted in the early hours of the morning. They duct-taped guards inside to their chairs, then sacked the museum, taking half a billion dollars worth of artwork in one of the most audacious crimes in art history.

Among the works stolen were "The Concert" by Vermeer, and "Storm on the Sea of Galilee" by Rembrandt. The footage was released by the FBI on August 6, 2015.


Police recently turned up pressure on someone long-believed to be involved in the case: Robert Gentile, 79, who was found to own cop outfits and and a list of the stolen art, is being prosecuted on gun charges. In April, the New York Times reported that he was caught on tape boasting about having access to the stolen works.

But to federal investigators, Mr. Gentile may be the last living person who can lead them to the masterpieces taken in the largest art heist in American history — an enduring whodunit pulled off 25 years ago at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

In a conversation last year with a confidential informant wearing a recording device, the authorities say, Mr. Gentile boasted that he had access to two of the paintings snatched from the museum, one of them a Rembrandt, and could arrange a sale for $500,000 or more.