Learning From the Gardner Art Theft

Earlier this week, the F.B.I. announced that it had identified the two men who robbed the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in March 1990, in the biggest art theft in American history. The F.B.I. said the criminals, whom it did not identify, had most likely moved their loot to Connecticut or the Philadelphia area. Twenty-three years may seem like an inordinate amount of time to solve a burglary, but the Gardner case has actually come a long way from the days when it sometimes seemed to sit on the F.B.I.’s investigative back burner — and the robbery has done a lot … Read More

FBI says that they know who robbed the Gardner museum

Big news for Gardner obsessives: The FBI believes it knows the identities of the thieves who stole art valued at up to $500 million from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Richard DesLauriers, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Boston, says the thieves belong to a criminal organization based in New England the mid-Atlantic states. He says authorities believe the art was taken to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region in the years after the theft, and offered for sale in Philadelphia about a decade ago. First off, kudos to the museum–and the FBI–for continuing to running down leads in this … Read More

Crime and Picasso: The Shadowy Underworld of Art

There didn’t seem anything particularly unusual about the sale of William Kingsland’s art collection, at least at first. A well-known New York art connoisseur, Kingsland died in 2006, and the auction house Christie’s was hired in the months after his death to sell many of his paintings and sculptures. But it turned out that Kingsland was not his given name. His birth name was Melvyn Kohn, and dozens of the artworks in his collection had been stolen from museums and galleries. The most notable include canvases by Pablo Picasso and John Singleton Copley and an Alberto Giacometti sculpture worth as … Read More

How Many Felonies Did You Commit Today? An Interview with Harvey Silverglate

Every day, the average American commits three felonies. So argues civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate in his new book “Three Felonies a Day,” the title of which refers to the number of crimes he estimates that Americans perpetrate each day because of vague and overly burdensome laws. In his book, Silverglate posits that federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from legal tradition and that prosecutors can now pin crimes on anyone for almost nothing at all. The problem, he says, is modern criminal laws, which have exploded in number and become impossibly broad and vague. I don’t know if I … Read More

Methland: Q and A with Nick Reding

Is crystal meth the most dangerous drug in the world? Author Nick Reding believes so, and he develops an impressive case for his argument in his new book Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town. Using a cast of fascinating characters from drug traffickers to the town doctor, Reding’s book tells the story of the tiny town of Oelwein, Iowa. Meth has ravaged the depressed town; no one, it seems, has been untouched. “Meth, it seemed, was just a part of life,” writes Reding in his prologue. Reding’s account has received powerful reviews. “The book, wrought from old-fashioned … Read More