By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — An expert in stolen art believes his database could help find the stolen paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. More than 20 years ago, thieves stole 13 pieces of art from the Gardner Museum. The priceless paintings including Rembrandt’s Sea of Galilee have never been recovered.

Julian Radcliffe, an art detective, says the recovery rate after 20 years is only 15 percent. He runs a database for stolen art that helps buyers and traders determine if their artwork is “hot.”

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He said we shouldn’t lose hope that the Gardner pieces will one day be returned.

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“I think we need to be realistic about the fact that these pictures may have been hidden by someone who cannot get back to recover them or dies and so we must keep up our hopes, we must go on working hard in recovering them. Our database will be important to that because one day these pictures may be sold by someone who doesn’t know what they are or disguises what they are, tries to get them back on the market by saying it’s a copy and get at least some money from a dodgy dealer in some part of the world which is not part of the main art trade,” Radcliffe said.

Radcliffe has a new book out, called “Lost Art,” in which he details how he’s helped retrieve priceless art pieces.

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The FBI is offering a $10 million reward for information that leads to the stolen paintings.

CBSBoston.com Staff