Law enforcement officials have removed evidence from the Connecticut home of a reputed mobster who authorities believe may have information on the infamous 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist.
According to the Hartford Courant, more than 20 agents arrived at the Manchester, Conn., home of Robert Gentile Thursday morning and set up "a command post." The officials investigated the house and a shed, and used ground-penetrating radar to scan his backyard.
Gentile's lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, told the Boston Globe Thursday that agents were looking "for what they say are weapons. But we all know what they are actually looking for — and they are looking for the paintings."
In 2010, WBUR's David Boeri reported on the 20th anniversary of the unsolved Boston robbery. David provides the background:
A Vermeer, the Rembrandts, a Flinck and a Manet — works of genius — along with five sketches by Degas, a gilded eagle finial of little value and a minor bronze Chinese beaker. Altogether, they were the greatest art theft in history; indeed, they were the greatest theft in history, with a grand estimated value of over $500 million. Their loss is a hangover that won’t go away...
The 75-year-old reputed mobster is detained after pleading not guilty to federal drug and weapons charges. His potential knowledge of the Gardner heist was raised by a prosecutor at Gentile's bond hearing on March 27.
The Courant reports:
Law enforcement records and other sources indicate that, during the 1990s, Gentile was associated with a mob crew in the Boston area that at least one FBI informant has linked him to the Gardner heist.
McGuigan has said his client knows nothing of the robbery.
The revelation that Gentile might have knowledge of the heist has renewed some hope that the case could be solved. In 2010, David bleakly recapped the state of the investigation then: "In short, there’s nothing really new," he reported.
This post has been updated with additional information.
This article was originally published on May 10, 2012.
This program aired on May 10, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.