Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Live Shot" John and the Largest Art Heist in History

BOSTON – The FBI has positively identified the two robbers who in 1990 committed the largest art heist in history, stealing over $500 million worth of masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. 

The pair gained admission to the lightly guarded museum after midnight on March 18, 1990 by posing as uniformed Boston police officers. Their haul included one of the 36 known paintings by 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. In addition, three Rembrandts and 13 other pieces were stolen.

One of the identified thiefs was a local ex-con who was free only because his lawyer, now Secretary of State John Kerry, was able to get his first-degree murder conviction overturned in 1982. 

The works of art have never been recovered.

The museum is offering a $5 million reward for the return of the paintings and other assorted items. The Vermeer painting, The Concert, may be the most valuable missing artwork in the world. Its current estimated value is $250 million. Among the stolen Rembrandts is a tiny self-portrait and The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, the Dutch master’s only seascape.

Kerry’s client, George Reissfelder, was a career criminal who was convicted of murdering a guard during a robbery in South Boston in 1966. Kerry and Law partner Roanne  Sragow were appointed by the court to handle Reissfelder’s appeal as Kerry began running for lieutenant governor in 1982.  Despite what had become overwhelming evidence of Reissfelder’s innocence, many in the criminal-justice system were reluctant to hand the showboating swift boat veteran a high-profile legal victory in the midst of his campaign.

Even then, Kerry was widely disliked by many in state politics for his shameless self-promotion, preening and thin skin. For his love of television appearances, he was known as “Liveshot.”

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