Posts Tagged ‘theft’

In March 1990, thieves broke into Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and “cut Rembrandt’s ‘Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee‘ and ‘A Lady and Gentleman in Black,’ ” among other works, from their frames.

A renewed flurry of interest in the 1990 art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum occurred the week that my husband and I took Minnesota friends to see the collection.

It was the week that “Robert V. Gentile, a Connecticut mobster long suspected by federal authorities of having information about the whereabouts of $500 million worth of masterworks stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum decades ago,” died. (See Boston Globe story.)

Visitors still flock to see the blank places where the missing pieces were once exhibited, and the museum staff is well primed on details. (Our friends asked one guard how long it took the thieves to get in and out with the goods. “Eighty-one minutes,” he answered promptly.)

So today I will share some pictures from our visit as well as a few other photos of the season.

Isabella Stewart Gardner, seen in the portrait below, was an unusual, wealthy woman who imported the courtyard and many other rooms and reconstructed them in the mansion that became a museum. She insisted in her will that nothing ever be changed after her death.

That posed a challenge for trustees. So in recent years, a separate building was constructed and connected to the mansion museum. In the new building, we saw the Titian exhibition, which features a series of paintings that Titian created between 1551 and 1562 for King Philip II of Spain. The most famous of the series is a painting Gardner actually owned.

The scenes of violence against women from Roman Mythology have forced curators to jump through a few hoops. Read about that here.

I have included a photo of the fireplace in the Dutch Room, the room from which most of the art works were stolen, and 15th century artist Paolo Uccello’s “A Young Lady of Fashion.”

The sculpture of ballet feet was outside the Mass College of Art, where we sat for a while to chat with our friends without masks that day.

Later, when I was back home, I shot the formal garden of a house in town, thinking how much it reminded me of the Gardner courtyard.

Also in town, there was a neighborly Porchfest once again, having been canceled last year because of Covid.

For the red flower picture, I very carefully tried to exclude all the clutter around it, but there is still an orange traffic hat peeking through in back. The next shot features a creative Toyota bumper.

Finally, a few photos from Rhode Island — a wall of giant stones and a Blackstone Park Eagle Scout project that created an activity space for children.

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Photo: Ibl/REX/Shutterstock.
Art detective Christopher Marinello, left, returning the long-lost Le Jardin by Matisse to Lars Bystrom of the Modern Museum in Stockholm in 2013.

Now for something completely different, how about we delve into the life of a lawyer who walks some dangerous paths to recover stolen art?

Alex Daniel writes at the Guardian, “One summer morning in 2008, Christopher Marinello was waiting on 72nd Street in Manhattan, New York. The traffic was busy, but after a few minutes he saw what he was waiting for: a gold Mercedes with blacked-out windows drew near. As it pulled up to the kerb, a man in the passenger seat held a large bin-liner out of the window. ‘Here you go,’ he said. Marinello took the bag and the car sped off. Inside was a rolled-up painting by the Belgian artist Paul Delvaux, Le Rendez-vous d’Ephèse. Its estimated worth was $6m, and at that point it had been missing for 40 years.

“Marinello is one of a handful of people who track down stolen masterpieces for a living. Operating in the grey area between wealthy collectors, private investigators, and high-value thieves, he has spent three decades going after lost works by the likes of Warhol, Picasso and Van Gogh. In that time, he says he has recovered art worth more than half a billion dollars. …

“Cases tend to go the following way. A stolen artwork – in this instance, a bird by the Martin Brothers pottery makers, which was swiped from a London library in 2005 – will often turn up at auction or on social media. It then falls to Marinello to establish whether it is actually the missing work and, sometimes, to get it back. This, he says, is usually relatively simple.

“Stolen works often change hands several times before resurfacing, leaving subsequent possessors in the dark about their provenance. This is most likely what happened with the Delvaux. The painting, completed in 1967, depicts several nude women in a dreamlike landscape that’s part classical architecture, part mid-century tram station. Delvaux himself sold it a year later, but it was stolen before it reached the buyer. In 2008, Marinello got a call from somebody who wanted to return it. What happened to it in the intervening 40 years is unclear, although its final location is known. It was rolled up, says Marinello, in the wardrobe of ‘a very well-heeled celebrity. And their very expensive lawyer made it clear they would never be named.’ …

“A slight, 58-year-old Italian American with a soft Brooklyn accent, Marinello … trained as a lawyer, cutting his teeth as a litigator in New York representing galleries, collectors and dealers in cases involving disputed works. ‘Eventually, it developed into a full-time art recovery practice,’ he says. In 2013, he formed his own company, Art Recovery International, which is based in Venice but has offices in London. …

He says. ‘[I’m] a pretty good negotiator. I can convince people to do the right thing. … The bottom line [is] that if you are trying to sell something that is stolen, you’re the one with a problem, not me.’ …

“He adds: ‘With a lot of art crime, there is nobody to arrest and people rarely go to prison. It’s just a matter of recovering the work.’

“However, sometimes a suspect will refuse to cooperate. Then, things are different. ‘We go after them like pitbulls and never let go,’ he says. ‘And that is when they start getting nasty, when they are concerned they’re going to go to prison.’ “

More at the Guardian, here. If you don’t follow the Guardian online, do check it out. I really love it. It’s free, but grateful readers volunteer to pay what they can.

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