FBI continues $500 million art heist search - Tucson News Now

FBI continues $500 million art heist search

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

On the twenty-third anniversary of the largest property heist in American history, the FBI continues to search for $500 million in artwork stolen from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The FBI says they know the identities of the thieves who stole paintings by Rembrandt, Manet, Degas and Vermeer, but won't release names.

Authorities have launched a new campaign to see the artwork returned, rather than having a primary goal to catch the thieves.

"The key goal here is to recover those paintings and bring them back," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said at a news conference at the FBI's Boston headquarters.

The heist took place just after midnight on March 18, 1990. Two men dressed as police officers stole 13 pieces of artwork in 81 minutes.

Over twenty years later, the FBI says they know the thieves' identities after chasing leads on a global scale.

Richard DesLauriers of the FBI says the thieves belonged to a criminal organization based in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. They took the art to Connecticut and Philadelphia and offered the artworks for sale in Philadelphia more than ten years ago, authorities say.

There is no trace of the artwork after the attempted sale, according to the FBI.

DesLauriers says releasing the suspects' identities could hinder the ongoing investigation. He also did not say if they are in prison on other charges, or whether they are dead or alive.         

The statute of limitations has expired on crimes associated with the actual theft, although anyone who knowingly conceals the art is subject to prosecution, police say. 

The museum still has blank walls where the stolen artworks were 23 years ago as a sign of hope that they will be returned.

The museum offers a $5 million reward for information regarding the recovery of the art.

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