Gardner Heist Anniversary: An update on investigative angles

A reader pinged me the other day asking for an update on the Gardner heist, and with the 24th anniversary of the theft coming up in a few days, here are a few developments. I’ve cribbed in places from earlier posts here and elsewhere.


The Bulger angle. Whitey Bulger was arrested in 2012. He does not appear to have made any mention of the art to prosecutors before or after his recent trial, and in the end, there are not any concrete clues of a Bulger angle to the Gardner heist. All of Bulger’s old associates—Stevie Flemmi, Kevin Weeks,  John Martorano—have turned state’s witness, and not one of them  ever fingered Bulger for the museum robbery. In all of the Bulger wiretaps and court documents and surveillance records, there has never been any mention of the paintings, either.

To be sure, I imagine it’s possible that Bulger made some phone calls after he learned of the theft and it’s certainly possible that he knows–or thinks he may know–who did rob the museum. But in the end, he has no idea where the art is today.


The David Turner angle. Since my book came out, there’s new evidence tying David Turner and the crew of Carmello Merllino/TRC Auto to the robbery. In my book, I present some evidence that Boston mobster David Turner was one of the Gardner thieves and suggest that George Reissfelder was his accomplice.

After my book was published, more evidence came out that implicated Reissfelder, and the Boston Herald interviewed George Reissfelder’s brother, Richard, and Richard claims that he saw one of the stolen Gardner paintings in George’s apartment. I’ve heard recently that Turner is shopping around a book proposal. No new additional evidence on the whereabouts of the actual paintings, though.


Robert Gentile angle. Among Gardner observers, there’s a theory that the paintings went from the Turner/Merlino/TRC crew to a bank robber named Bobby Gurente. One theory is that Gurente then passed the paintings to Robert Gentile. Gentile is a member of organized crime, and the FBI recently raided Gentile’s home. They found nothing. Gentile spent some time in prison. He got out in January, and he doesn’t seem to be giving up any information.

This is perhaps the most promising lead in recent years, but excitement here has slowed as Gentile has not come forward with the art. This Hartford Courant article gives a great summary of Gentile and his alleged connection to the stolen paintings. 

Last year, the FBI announced that they also believe that the art went down to the Philadelphia area. (The idea is that the paintings moved through the organized crime network that goes up and down the Northeast.) The Boston Globe sums it up well: The FBI believes “the paintings have changed hands several times, making their way through organized crime circles from Boston to Connecticut and Philadelphia, where some of the art was offered for sale as recently as a decade ago.”

When it comes to the public playing a role in the case, this might be the best hope for the art to come forward. In other words, we need to continue to dream of someone in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area of calling in a new tip about the whereabouts of the stolen art. And I really do believe that the lost masterpieces will come back to the Gardner museum. It might take years, decades, maybe even a century, but soon or later, the paintings will go back to the museum’s walls. Because in the world of art theft, hope springs eternal for good reason—it often takes years for stolen artworks to come back.

If anyone has any information on the Gardner heist, they can call my toll-free hotline 1-888-292-9380 or email me. They can also contact the Gardner museum’s Anthony Amore. He also collects tips. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 617 278 5114.


5 Replies to “Gardner Heist Anniversary: An update on investigative angles”

  1. So when they announced last year that the museum knows who committed the robbery, do you think they are apeaking of Turner and Reissfelder?

  2. Joe, I don’t know for sure. The FBI never named names. But, yes, I believe that they were talking about Turner and Reissfelder. Keep in mind, too, that the FBI launched a massive investigation of Turner in 03 as well….

  3. I’m always late to the party. I can tell you that George Reissfelder wasn’t one of the guys in the museum that night. For one thing he was too old (49 at the time of the robbery). But also, from the pictures I’ve seen of him he was too swarthy. Unsub #1 was very white, not an albino but his skin tone was whiter than Reissfelder’s.

    From the pictures I’ve seen William Merlino could have been unsub #1. It’s hard to say almost a quarter of a century removed from the incident, but out of all the pictures I’ve seen Merlino looks the closest to unsub#1.

  4. Richard Mccallum says: Reply

    The robbery was done by a guy named Timothy McCallum who was the guy in the back seat for the Brian Halloran Murders He also was given A machine gun by Bulger The Gardner was partial payment for the Halloran hit in 1988 I told FBI and next day that I was ambushed by Bulger and 2 other guysI immediatly

  5. Richard Mccallum says: Reply

    the gardner was partial payment for Brian Halloran murders my uncle Timothy McCallum was in the back seat with a machine gun in 1984 he came home from PHILLY WERE HE STARTED to work for down the cape in Yarmonth at 2 places that Bulger owned the Irish village motel and the surf turf bar and grill in 1988 I STARTED to cooperated with the feds when I told the FbI about Brian Halloran and Mike Donohue killings The next day I goT AND A CALL from charles street jail when coming out i was ambush on the longfellow the nextday I put complaint John connolly Nick gianturco andTom Daly

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