The buzzer blared from the door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The night watchman peered into the grainy video monitor and saw two men in police uniforms. The men persuaded the watchman to open the door. Once inside, the men bound and gagged the watchman and a fellow security guard and made off with $500 million in stolen art. Among the 13 masterpieces taken in the March 18, 1990, heist were Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Concert.
Thus begins Stephen Kurkjian’s Master Thieves, a tale of one of the most brazen and expensive art thefts in history, still unsolved.
Kurkjian, an investigative reporter and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, pens the book like a mystery novel, examining the scenarios that the FBI has considered over the years. Was the Gardner Museum heist the work of organized crime or low-level thugs? Was it an inside job? Why was security so lax? Is the stolen art hidden in a backwater warehouse or a shed in the woods? Kurkjian explores all the possibilities and comes up with a plausible new theory of his own.
Master Thieves is a fast-paced book that will appeal to all those who enjoy art, mysteries and true crime. It’s a story that proves the adage: Truth is stranger than fiction.