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Art theft of 1990In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990—as the city was preoccupied with Saint Patrick's Day celebrations—a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers gained entry to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and stole thirteen works of art.At 1:24 a.m., two men wearing police uniforms walked up to a side entrance of the Museum. One of the men pressed the buzzer near the door and ordered "Police! Let us in. We heard about a disturbance in the courtyard." They were buzzed into the building without question. There were two security guards working inside of the 4-story building at the time; one was sitting behind the main security desk, the other guard was elsewhere. When the intruders arrived at the main security desk, one of them told the guard "You look familiar...I think we have a default warrant out for you." The guard was tricked into stepping out from behind his desk, where he had access to the only alarm button in the museum to alert the police. He was ordered to stand facing a wall and was handcuffed. The second security guard arrived minutes later and was also put in handcuffs. He asked the intruders "Why are you arresting me?" "You're not being arrested," was the reply. "This is a robbery. Don't give us any problems and you won't get hurt." The thieves wrapped duct tape around the guards' hands, feet, and heads, leaving nose holes for breathing, took them to the museum's basement, and handcuffed them to pipes.The thieves then went upstairs to the Dutch Room. As one of them approached a Rembrandt painting, an alarm sounded, which they immediately smashed. They pulled Rembrandt's Self-Portrait (1629) off the wall and tried to take the wooden panel out of the heavy frame. Unsuccessful at that attempt, they left it on the floor. Next they cut Rembrandt's The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) out of the frame as well as A Lady and Gentleman in Black (1633) (the museum says this is a Rembrandt, but some scholars, including the Rembrandt Research Project in Amsterdam, say it is not). They removed Vermeer's The Concert (1658–60) from its frame and Govaert Flinck's Landscape with an Obelisk (1638) (which at one time was attributed to Rembrandt). They took a Rembrandt etching and a Chinese bronze beaker from the Shang Dynasty (1200–1100 BC).Elsewhere in the museum, not far from a portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner, they removed five Degas drawings, a Manet oil, Chez Tortoni (1878–80), and a finial in the form of an eagle. To get to the finial, they passed by two Raphaels and a Botticelli.The thieves had to make two trips to their car with the artwork. The theft lasted 81 minutes. The guards remained tied and handcuffed until the police arrived at 8:15 a.m. later that morning.The stolen artworks include:The Concert by Vermeer (one of only 34 known works by Vermeer in the world)A Lady and Gentleman in Black by RembrandtThe Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt (the artist's only known seascape)Self-Portrait by Rembrandt (postage-stamp-sized)Landscape with Obelisk by Govaert Flinck (formerly attributed to Rembrandt)Chez Tortoni by ManetFive drawings by Degas:La Sortie de PesageCortege aux Environs de FlorenceProgram for an artistic soiree 1 & 2Three Mounted JockeysAn ancient Chinese Ku from the Shang DynastyA finial in the shape of an eagle from a Napoleonic flagAll together, the stolen pieces are estimated to be a loss of $500 million, making the robbery the largest private property theft ever. Several empty frames hang in the Dutch Room gallery, both in homage to the missing works and as placeholders for when they are returned. The stolen artworks have not yet been returned to the museum and the selection of works puzzles the experts, specifically since more valuable artworks were available.The museum offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the recovery of the stolen artwork, which remains open two decades later. The FBI followed several leads, but none of them produced any results. The case was hampered by the monetary reward and corruption in the Boston FBI office, which would be uncovered in the late 1990s (see John Connolly).In March 2013, the FBI said it believed it knows the identity of the thieves. They believe that the theft was carried out by a criminal organization based in the mid-Atlantic and New England, and that the stolen paintings were moved by a criminal organization through Connecticut and the Philadelphia area in the years following the theft. The FBI believes some of the art may have been sold in Philadelphia in the early 2000s.