Special Agent Geoff Kelly
Special Agent, Boston FBI
Shortly after one in the morning on March 18, two individuals posing as police officers were able to gain access into the museum by fooling the security guards into believing that they were there for a legitimate purpose. Once they were inside the museum, they locked up the guards in the basement and spent the next 81 minutes removing 13 pieces of art from the museum.
The pieces that were taken were very eclectic and it’s been difficult for us to determine, over the last 22 years, the reasoning behind the paintings and the pieces that were taken. Some of the more valuable paintings, Vermeer’s The Concert which is one of only 36 Vermeer’s in existence. Two very large and very valuable Rembrandt oil paintings including a seascape which was Rembrandt’s only known seascape. And there were some other objects that were taken: the finial off a Napoleonic Flag, a small beaker, a Chinese beaker called the ku, and a number of sketches by Degas. While they are excellent sketches, they’re certainly nowhere near as valuable as the larger paintings that were taken – the more important pieces.
From the morning when the theft was first discovered, the FBI has been an integral part of this investigation – the lead investigative agency. And has covered literally thousands and thousands of leads worldwide in an effort to identify the individuals responsible for the theft and also to recover the stolen paintings.
We have had investigation that has gone into Europe, Ireland, United Kingdom, Japan, Asia. There’s been no part of this globe that we haven’t scoured following up on credible leads.
There has been a significant development in the investigation over the last couple of years to the point where we can say with a high degree of certainty that we can say we have identified the individuals who were responsible for the original theft and in fact we have been able to trace some of the paintings, their whereabouts in the years following the theft. And unfortunately, we haven’t identified where they are right now and that’s why we are coming to the public for their help.
After 22 years, we acknowledge the fact that any or all of these pieces could be in the hands of individuals who had nothing to do with the original theft or may not even know that they are stolen. Given that fact, we understand that someone who comes forward with information about the whereabouts of this artwork or with any of the pieces themselves is not necessarily involved in the theft and is not necessarily engaged in illegal activity.