Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney, Massachusetts
District of Massachusetts
Thank you Rick, and good afternoon everyone. Since I became United States Attorney in 2009, I made it clear that we would actively and aggressively pursue return of the items that were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, 23 years ago today, to be exact.
Since working with the FBI and the museum’s head of security, Anthony Amore, it has been an active and at times fast-moving investigation. I’ve had two assistant Unites States attorneys, Brian Kelly and Rob Fisher, dedicated to this effort. And right up until today, as you’ve heard, we are following leads and tracking down potential sources of investigation and information.
Over the past three years, I’ve also met with Mr. Amore, have visited at the museum several times. And when I have entered the Dutch Room and seen the empty frames I am reminded of the enormous impact of this theft.
I am optimistic though. And in fact I think we’re all optimistic that one day soon the painting will be returned to their rightful place in the Fenway as Mrs. Gardner intended. Nearly 90 years ago she indicated in her will that she wanted the paintings to ne housed at the museum and exhibited to the public forever. I have a great desire to get those paintings back so that Mrs. Gardner’s wishes can be fulfilled.
And in particular, as we’ve said, there are two keys incentives. And today’s purpose is really to reinvigorate and focus the public’s attention on this matter in order to get tips and information. And the key incentives are not only the reward that you will soon hear about in greater detail from Anthony Amore, but also the potential of immunity for anyone connected to the thefts or the concealment of those paintings throughout the year.
The United States Attorneys continues to offer the possibility of immunity from criminal prosecution for information that leads to the return of the paintings. Of course, this is a situation that would be worked on based on the very specific facts and circumstances of the return of the paintings and that are brought to our attention. But the key goal here is to recover those paintings and bring them back. And immunity as a potential for someone who may have knowledge of, or has actual knowledge—may have had involvement in the concealment throughout the years of these works of art—would be available to them. And I’m here to confirm that again.