Let's Bring Home The Stolen Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Art: A New Approach

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Gardner Museum, City of Boston, Art Lovers Everywhere: Let’s Adopt the Turbo Plan

On March 18, 1990, thieves stole 13 works of art from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, including two extraordinarily valuable paintings: “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” by Rembrandt and “The Concert” by Vermeer. Despite the best efforts of those tasked with the recovery of the artwork, to date nothing has been returned to the museum.

Art crime expert Paul “Turbo” Hendry has long argued that the return of the Gardner artwork depends on implementing the right incentives. Although there exists a USD$10 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the works, Paul believes there are too many contingencies tied to this offer, all of which greatly reduce its prospects for success.

Paul’s alternative proposal, called the Turbo Plan and recently outlined on the American podcast “Empty Frames,” humbly requests three changes to the Gardner artwork reward:

  Establish an itemized price list showing the amount that will be received for returning each of the stolen items, to accommodate the possibility that the artwork is no longer together
  Remove the “good condition” requirement that introduces too much subjective assessment
  Offer full immunity from prosecution for any act related to the Gardner theft or its aftermath, with no exceptions whatsoever

Let’s support Paul’s efforts and ask the Gardner Museum to fix the suboptimal structure of its current reward policy. No one questions the excellent intentions behind the Gardner’s present reward. But 28 years into our response to this terrible crime, we must consider modifying the approach we take as we attempt to restore what’s been astutely identified as “our heritage.”

1 See https://www.gardnermuseum.org/organization/theft
2 See https://emptyframespodcast.com/
3 See https://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/21/arts/auctioneers-underwrite-reward-in-art-theft.html