Friday, April 21, 2017

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Art Theft: Kurkjian on Plea Bargaining


Summary: Master Thieves by Stephen Kurkjian introduces a South Boston runaway who ideated the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art theft for plea bargaining.


Stephen Kurkjian, author of Master Thieves; Cambridge, Massachusetts; March 9, 2017: Արարատ Թրվանց, CC BY SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The dreams of a runaway teenager anticipated the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art theft March 18, 1990, according to Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World's Greatest Art Heist.
Stephen Kurkjian, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at the Boston Globe, broaches Louis Royce as possible ideator of the art crime in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. A junior high school student's field trip, a teenage runaway's sleepover and a theft-planner's predilection for art construct the profile of potential ideator, not actual perpetrator. Negotiability of stolen masterpieces, not appreciation of Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, March 28 or April 6, 1483-April 6, 1520), drove perpetrators nine years after ideation.
Suspected master ideator Royce expects a percentage whenever exile ends for the missing Gardner 13 artworks, all of which "should be back with the museum now."

13 artworks removed from Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum during March 18, 1990 art theft: Public Domain, via FBI Art Crime Team

The museum's comfortable warmth fueled the eighth-grader's fascination during a field trip from Patrick Gavin Junior High School in South Boston, one of Boston's poorest neighborhoods. The third-floor Long Gallery's crimson tapestry-covered table for Matteo Civitali's (May 5, 1436-Oct. 12, 1501) Virgin Adoring the Child painted terracotta gave him a canopy bed. The museum's antiques, masterpieces and security heralded the South Boston native's first art theft, of 11 paintings and prints, during a jewelry-related break-in Feb. 21, 1981. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Middlesex County Superior Court records indicate recovery of the $50,000-valued artworks and of the $50,000-plus-valued jewelry stolen in Newton, Massachusetts.
The negotiability of stolen art for immunity or reward jumpstarts the return of the Newton, and hopefully of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, art theft casualties.

Louis Royce's field trip as an eighth grader at South Boston's Patrick F. Gavin School inspired a subsequently fascinating sleepover at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; exterior shot of Patrick F. Gavin School by Herbert E. Glasier & Company, Dorchester Street, South Boston, Massachusetts: City of Boston Archives, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

FBI records keep track of two recovery raids for the Marc Chagall (July 7, 1887-March 28, 1985) and Salvador Dalí (May 11, 1904-Jan. 23, 1989) artworks. They list August 1981 as the first recovery raid near William F. Callahan Jr. (June 12, 1891-April 20, 1989) Tunnel between downtown Boston and Logan Airport. They mention recovery of one Chagall lithograph, two Dalí lithographs and three Dalí paintings during Royce's meeting with Edward F. Clark, FBI Special Agent undercover 1964-1995. They note subsequent recovery, during a raid of a North Shore motel, in July 1982 of the five remaining missing artworks from the Newton residential break-in.
Royce's offer "If you drop the charges against Ralph [Rossetti], I'll tell you where you can find the rest of the score" obtained his boss's immunity.

First recovery raid of artworks stolen from Feb. 21, 1981, Newton, Massachusetts, residential break-in took place August 1981 near Boston Harbor's Callahan Tunnel; Lieutenant William F. Callahan Jr. Tunnel, Dec. 6, 2014: Tony Webster from San Francisco, California, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

"Under the norms of the criminal life," facilitators and ideators pluck 15 percent from a theft's profits, "depending on the tipster's clout with the actual thieves."
William Butchka, FBI Special Agent undercover in Boston, queues up with FBI Special Agent Clark regarding Royce's proficiency as a master ideator and a master thief. He reveals, "[Royce] was clever, and he'd study a job for however long it took to figure out the best way of pulling it off successfully."
Royce suggests, "Maybe they were taken to get someone out of jail, but that obviously hasn't happened. So they're just laying somewhere now, unseen and unappreciated."
Rivals terminally thwarted Robert Donati's (June 4, 1940-Sept. 21, 1991) trading, Royce-style, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art theft casualties for boss Vincent Ferrara's 22-year prison sentence.

aftermath of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art theft March 18, 1990: Watertown Library @WatertownPubLib via Twitter July 14, 2015

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
Stephen Kurkjian, author of Master Thieves; Cambridge, Massachusetts; March 9, 2017: Արարատ Թրվանց, CC BY SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stephen_A._Kurkjian.jpg
13 artworks removed from Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum during March 18, 1990 art theft: Public Domain, via FBI Art Crime Team @ https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/5-million-reward-offered-for-return-of-stolen-gardner-museum-artwork
Louis Royce's field trip as an eighth grader at South Boston's Patrick F. Gavin School inspired a subsequently fascinating sleepover at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; exterior shot of Patrick F. Gavin School by Herbert E. Glasier & Company, Dorchester Street, South Boston, Massachusetts: City of Boston Archives, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Patrick_F._Gavin_School_-_403002065_-_City_of_Boston_Archives.jpg
First recovery raid of artworks stolen from Feb. 21, 1981, Newton, Massachusetts, residential break-in took place August 1981 near Boston Harbor's Callahan Tunnel; Lieutenant William F. Callahan Jr. Tunnel, Dec. 6, 2014: Tony Webster from San Francisco, California, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lieutenant_William_F._Callahan_Tunnel,_Boston_(22084667302).jpg
aftermath of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art theft March 18, 1990: Watertown Library @WatertownPubLib via Twitter tweet of July 14, 2015, @ https://twitter.com/WatertownPubLib/status/621106041523163136

For further information:
Broderick, Ericka. 1 December 2016. "Stephen Kurkjian: Gardner Museum Theft Started As 'Get Out of Jail Free' Scam." InDepthNewHampshire > Courts and Corrections.
Available @ http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-opinion/article/A-final-attempt-to-recover-stolen-art-7223006.php
Connelly, Sherryl. 15 February 2015. "Possible Leads in $500 Million Boston Museum Robbery 25 Years Later: Book." New York Daily News > Crime.
Available @ http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/leads-500m-boston-museum-robbery-1990-article-1.2115903
Kurkjian, Stephen. 13 March 2005. "Secrets Behind the Largest Art Theft in History." Boston Globe > Globe Special Report > The Gardner Heist.
Available @ http://archive.boston.com/news/specials/gardner_heist/heist/
Kurkjian, Stephen. 2015. Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World's Greatest Art Heist. New York NY: PublicAffairs.
Kurkjian, Stephen. 1 April 2016. "A Final Attempt to Recover Stolen Art." TimesUnion > TU Plus > Opinion.
Available @ http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-opinion/article/A-final-attempt-to-recover-stolen-art-7223006.php
"The 'Master Thieves' Behind Boston's Greatest Cold Case." WBUR > Radio Boston > 12 March 2015 > Stephen Kurkjian.
Available @ http://www.wbur.org/radioboston/2015/03/12/stephen-kurkjian
Murphy, Shelley; and Kurkjian, Stephen. 18 March 2017. Six Theories Behind the Stolen Gardner Museum Paintings. Boston Globe > Metro.
Available @ https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/03/18/six-theories-behind-stolen-gardner-museum-paintings/JmwHou86qo5MtBzX1fb9cI/story.html
Watertown Library @WatertownPubLib. "Cunning in the way that they got into the museum, but brutal in dealing with the paintings. @kurkjian" Twitter. July 14, 2015.
Available @ https://twitter.com/WatertownPubLib/status/621106041523163136


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