New Gardner Museum Art Heist Video Released By FBI

BOSTON (CBS) — The FBI released never-before-seen surveillance footage related to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist on Thursday, which shows a security guard letting in an unauthorized visitor 24 hours before priceless works of art were stolen.

It’s been more than 25 years since 13 pieces of art worth at least $500 million were taken from the Boston museum on March 18, 1990.

Guard #1 (left) talks to guard #2 (right) shortly before guard #1 leaves the room inside the Gardner Museum, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

Guard #1 (left) talks to guard #2 (right) shortly before guard #1 leaves the room inside the Gardner Museum, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

The security camera video released Thursday shows a car pull up next to a rear entrance of the museum 24 hours before the heist.

The FBI said the car “matches the general description of a vehicle that was reported to have been parked outside the Museum moments prior to the theft.”

The unidentified man getting out of the car outside the Gardner Museum, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

The unidentified man getting out of the car outside the Gardner Museum, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

The newly released video shows “an unidentified man exiting the automobile and then being allowed inside the Museum, against Museum policy, by a security guard,” the FBI said in a statement.

Guard #2 appears to hit the intercom to let the unidentified man into the Gardner Museum, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

Guard #2 appears to hit the intercom to let the unidentified man into the Gardner Museum, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

“That event occurred at 12:49 a.m. (sic) on March 17, 1990, almost exactly 24 hours before the thieves entered the museum through the same door.”

The unidentified man in the Gardner Museum after guard #2 allowed him in, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

The unidentified man in the Gardner Museum after guard #2 allowed him in, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

Authorities say the video is low resolution, but they are hoping it will help identify the unknown man or the vehicle.

“This latest request for the public’s assistance illustrates the FBI’s continued commitment to the Gardner investigation,” Boston FBI Special Agent Vincent Lisi said in a statement. “By releasing this video, we hope to generate meaningful leads and ultimately recover the stolen artwork.”

The unidentified man leaves the Gardner Museum, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

The unidentified man leaves the Gardner Museum, March 17, 1990. (Image credit: FBI)

The FBI says two white men disguised in Boston police uniforms were able to enter the museum on the night of March 18 by telling a security guard that they were responding to a disturbance. Once inside, the thieves handcuffed two security guards and kept them in the museum’s basement.

No weapons were ever shown, and no panic button was ever activated during the robbery, authorities say. The thieves also got away with that evening’s surveillance film, but did not take footage from the previous night.

The guard who granted access to the unauthorized visitor on March 17 also let thieves disguised as police officers inside the museum the next evening, according to The Boston Globe. Richard Abath is now in his late 40s and living in Vermont, and has denied any involvement in the burglary plot.

The museum is offering a reward of up to $5 million for the return of the missing art.

“We remain committed to one goal: the return of all 13 works to their rightful place, which is here at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. To that end, we support the efforts that the United States Attorney and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are making to uncover any and all information related to the theft of our artwork. We believe that no stone should be left unturned,” Gardner Museum Security Director Anthony Amore said in a statement.

Those who think they can provide information should call the FBI at 617-742-5533 or the Isabella Gardner Museum at 617-278-5114.

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