RICK DESLAURIERS: OK, acceptable afternoon everybody. Great to accept ceremony of you actuality today. My name is Rick DesLauriers and I’m the appropriate abettor in allegation of the FBI’s Boston division.
KELLY HORAN: On March 18, 2013 — the 23rd ceremony of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Building robbery — the Boston FBI convened a columnist appointment to altercate the case. In the antecedent two-plus decades, they’d never done annihilation like it. So in a allowance arranged coffer to coffer with press, in air that charge accept acquainted aing with expectation, the then-head of the Boston FBI spoke.
DESLAURIERS: For the aboriginal time, we can say with a aerial amount of aplomb we’ve bent that in the years aback the annexation the art was transported to Connecticut and to the Philadelphia area. For example, recently, we bent that about a decade ago some of the art was brought to Philadelphia area it was offered for sale.
HORAN: This was big. This was new. This was the FBI appropriation the lid of clandestineness on the Gardner case and agreeable the accessible to blink inside. And what they showed us were the dots that they’d affiliated from Boston to Connecticut to Philadelphia.
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DESLAURIERS: However, we do not apperceive area the art is currently located. And with a aerial amount of aplomb we accept those amenable for the annexation were associates of a bent alignment with a abject in the mid-Atlantic states and in New England.
HORAN: This was the United States government saying: We ample out who committed the better art break-in in history. We apperceive area the abyss took the art afterwards they blanket it. There was aloof one problem.
SHELLEY MURPHY: Look, aback the FBI says, “We apparent it. We apperceive who did it.” It’s like, “No, you don’t!” Because you don’t accept the paintings.
HORAN: Boston Globe anchorman Shelley Murphy has covered organized abomination in Boston aback the 1980s.
MURPHY: You apparently accept actuality that we don’t apperceive that makes you appealing abiding you apperceive who did it, but based on what’s been fabricated accessible it doesn’t arise that there’s anytime been accepted analysis of any of the paintings.
JACK RODOLICO: Aback it comes to the analysis into the Gardner crime, the FBI has said so little. So aback they came out and told this story, it acquainted like article above was about to happen.
DESLAURIERS: With today’s advertisement we activate the final chapter.
RODOLICO: It’s been bristles years aback that columnist conference. That’s a appealing continued final chapter. And that accessible account charcoal the best specific the Boston FBI has anytime been about what happened to the baseborn art. In the absence of any new statements from the Boston FBI, we’re activity to chase the aisle to analyze the adventure they told in 2013. Does it ascendancy up? From WBUR in Boston and The Boston Globe, this is Aftermost Seen. I’m Jack Rodolico.
HORAN: I’m Kelly Horan. This is Adventure 5: “The Bobbys.” Our adventure begins in a accompaniment the FBI didn’t acknowledgment in the columnist conference: Maine. We’re starting there because two abstracted arcane sources told two abstracted board — the case abettor from the Boston FBI and the Gardner Museum’s Anthony Amore — that that’s area the baseborn art was already hidden — apparently afore it fabricated its cruise bottomward the eastern seaboard, to Philadelphia. The sources didn’t aloof say Maine, they additionally gave an abode — the above summer home of a consecutive coffer robber, cocaine dealer, assassin and adept accessory of the TRC Auto Electric gang: a man alleged Bobby Guarente.
ANTHONY AMORE: I bethink going. It was very, actual cold. It was desolate. There’s annihilation about except snow. It looked like Fargo.
HORAN: Anthony Amore and the Boston FBI abettor trekked up to the average of Maine in February of 2010. Already at the long-abandoned house, they looked for the affectionate of ambuscade abode both sources had described. They begin it on the additional floor.
AMORE: There was a baby door, like bisected the admeasurement of a accustomed door, and you accessible it up and it looks like a abode you can accumulate pots and pans, about large. And I flashed my ablaze in there and you could see added in there was a ambuscade spot. Absolutely could accept fit our art aback there. So it arrested out.
HORAN: But aback the FBI abettor crawled inside, he begin nothing. So, no paintings, but there absolutely was a ambuscade place. And that affronted their absorption in Bobby Guarente as a doubtable for accepting at atomic bedevilled the Gardner Museum’s art. On their way out of town, Amore and the FBI abettor chock-full off at the home of Bobby Guarente’s widow, Elene.
AMORE: This baby woman with short, aphotic beard opens the door. She was smoking.
HORAN: Elene Guarente said active with her backward bedmate was a nightmare.
AMORE: And she told us this monster acclimated to appear home and exhausted her on the weekends. And I asked her, “Do you accept any pictures of him,” because they’re adamantine to appear by. And she said, “No, I threw them all abroad as anon as that son of a allegation died.”
HORAN: They weren’t planning on spending abundant time with Elene Guarente. But article happened afterwards Amore asked if she’d anytime heard of the Gardner Museum.
AMORE: She said, "No." And we’re like, “Well, accede you, Elene, blah, blah, blah.” But I notice, I apprehension her duke afraid now. It starts to shake. And she starts crying. Like, seriously, crying. Not a tear. She’s crying, like, I accept never accomplished before. And she breach bottomward and says, “I accept heard of the museum. My Bobby had those paintings.”
HORAN: Elene Guarente claimed her Bobby had two of the Gardner paintings. Aback Amore asked what the paintings looked like, she declared an angel of a woman sitting down, apparent in profile. In two of the paintings baseborn from the Gardner — “The Concert” by Vermeer and “A Lady and Gentleman in Black” by Rembrandt — there is a woman sitting, in profile.
AMORE: She told us a adventure about aback Bobby got out of bastille for the aftermost time that they went to Portland, Maine. And met with a acquaintance of Bobby’s and his wife and they had banquet at a Howard Johnson’s up there.
HORAN: Elene Guarente said that during that banquet in 2003, her bedmate and this added guy absolved out to the parking lot during the meal afore advancing aback inside.
AMORE: And afresh on the ride home, he told her you can stop worrying. I got rid of those paintings. And it’s afresh she accepted that he gave those paintings to the guy they were at banquet with.
HORAN: Whom did Bobby and Elene Guarente accept banquet with? Whom did Bobby Guarente allegedly accord the paintings to?
AMORE: She said, “I apperceive it. It’s at the tip of my tongue. He’s a gambler.” She was aggravating to bethink — I anticipate she said he cooked.
HORAN: Elene Guarente paged through an old abode book and begin the name: Bobby Gentile. He had a nickname: The Cook.
AMORE: We absolved out of the apartment, and we boring and calmly absolved to the car. And as anon as we noticed we were out of afterimage we looked at ceremony other, our eyes opened wide, and we high-fived and we’d never done that before. I bethink him adage to me, “Can you accept it? Can you accept it?” Like we assuredly had a big breach in the case.
RODOLICO: This was 20 years afterwards the Gardner heist. It had taken that continued to get a aerial five. Anthony Amore and his FBI analogue weren’t abrogation Maine with the paintings, but they were abrogation with two names that would prove to be acute suspects in the trafficking of the Gardner art: two abyss alleged Bobby. In the case of Bobby Guarente, it accurate investigators’ long, adamantine attending at the TRC Auto Electric gang, because Bobby Guarente had been aing to several members. Guarente was additionally affiliated to Bobby Gentile, aka The Cook. And it was that affiliation — these two Bobbys — that opened a new admission of investigation, one that led to Connecticut.
RYAN MCGUIGAN: I asked one actuality in the bent abyss who I had, I guess, the amusement of knowing, and his adduce to me was, “Bobby Gentile, best abuse sausage and peppers I anytime had.” Hahaha. And the additional I heard that I’m like, he’s absolutely The Cook.
RODOLICO: This is Ryan McGuigan, Gentile’s aegis attorney. The FBI never mentioned Gentile by name at its columnist conference, but McGuigan says, anytime the FBI says Connecticut, they beggarly Gentile.
MCGUIGAN: I mean, they could’ve aloof said it went from Boston to Philadelphia, but they didn’t. They said it went through Connecticut.
RODOLICO: The FBI went from Maine to Gentile’s home in Maner, Connecticut, and confronted him. Did Bobby Guarente accord him the baseborn art in a Maine parking lot seven years earlier?
MCGUIGAN: He remembers audibly the banquet because his wife ordered the bifold lobsters, which was the best big-ticket affair on the menu. And you’ve met my applicant so you apperceive that he’s a bit avaricious aback it comes to advantageous for added people’s stuff, so he was a bit afflicted by that. But he absolutely doesn’t accede accepting two very, actual ample paintings in the block of his car.
RODOLICO: Bobby Gentile had a bent almanac addition aback to 1956. McGuigan says the FBI had no affidavit that Gentile had accustomed the paintings in that Maine parking lot, so they asked for his advice award them. They gave him a letter of amnesty from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and reminded him he would be acceptable for a $5 actor accolade from the museum.
MCGUIGAN: They asked him a lot of questions. He provided answers to the questions as best he could. I’m abiding that they would affirmation that he was not as aboveboard as he should accept been.
RODOLICO: He wasn’t, according to federal prosecutors. They say Gentile flunked a lie detector analysis and aria to a admirable jury. So, with no cooperation from Gentile, the FBI afflicted tactics. This time they beatific in an informant, cutting a wire. And Gentile started talking — cogent stories. He claimed the added Bobby, Bobby Guarente, masterminded the heist. He hinted that he knew area the art was. This is all according to what prosecutors would afterwards say in court. Our aide from The Boston Globe, Steve Kurkjian, says these abstruse recordings charge accept had FBI agents on the bend of their seats. Then, one day in 2012…
STEPHEN KURKJIAN: The adviser sees a scattering of Percocets on the table and he alcove over and says, “Can I booty these?” And Gentile says, “Yeah, they’re no good. My aback is — that doesn’t abate my aback pain.” But that’s a crime.
RODOLICO: The FBI swooped in and arrested him for distributing his decree medication – – acquisitive the anticipation of bastille time would get him to talk.
KURKJIAN: What they’re accomplishing is advancement the ante, authoritative it added acute that he abet in their investigation. “When did you accept the paintings, how did you get them, and area are they now? What did you do with them?” If he doesn’t abet afresh he’s gonna accept to face these bent charges.
NEWS CLIP: Teams of law administration agents accept swarmed the home of a accounted mobster.
HORAN: Afterwards Gentile’s arrest, federal agents searched his Connecticut house, attractive for the art.
NEWS CLIP: Acceptable afternoon, Keith. You can see the federal agents. They’re alive below that awning — a array of command centermost they’ve set up appropriate in the driveway. This is a mystery.
HORAN: Here’s what the TV crews could see: streams of men, some in aphotic suits, others in white coveralls, walking in and out of a abode on a abounding burghal street.
NEWS CLIP: The federal agents alive this bashful agronomical abode aboriginal this morning. It’s the home of 75-year-old Robert Gentile.
HORAN: From the street, here’s what the TV cameras couldn’t capture: federal agents in Gentile’s basement apprehension a baby arsenal, ammunition, guns, silencers, explosives and lots of cash. And remember, the Gardner thieves bamboozled their way into the building by bathrobe up as cops. Already inside, they abandoned the guards in the basement. While analytic Gentile’s house, FBI agents additionally begin badge caps — and handcuffs. Steve Kurkjian says they begin article abroad in that basement, too.
KURKJIAN: They came up with one area of cardboard that listed all the 13 pieces of art that had been baseborn from the building and what ceremony allotment would get on the atramentous market. HORAN: What was that? A arcade list? A receipt? Whatever it was, it was bankrupt central a 22- year-old archetype of the Boston Herald, the aboriginal copy appear with account that the Gardner had been looted. That allotment of cardboard assertive board they bare to accumulate looking. Because their chase accreditation didn’t extend to the afford out back, they got addition one. Above Assistant U.S. Advocate Brian Kelly was there during the search.
BRIAN KELLY: And the FBI was attractive about and they begin a abstruse alcove below the shed. And anybody got absolute quiet like, “Uh oh, you know, this is area they may be buried.” They had to move a big allotment of equipment, which apparent the allurement door, and they opened the trapdoor. And we’re all attractive and it looks like they were affairs up a giant, you know, container. One of those artificial containers, I don’t apperceive if it’s Tupperware or what it’s called. And like, “Here it is, actuality it is.” And empty. Nothin’. We anticipation we had something, and we got nothin’.
HORAN: No paintings. But affirmation that appropriate that Gentile knew added about the baseborn Gardner art than he was admitting. And the admiral had a bulk of new accuse adjoin him. Gentile was a felon distributing narcotics and ambuscade weapons in his home.
KURKJIAN: And alike admitting he’s in bastille and he’s still abnegation to accord them any apparent assistance, they anticipate they’ve begin the appropriate person.
RODOLICO: So now is a acceptable time to admonish you that this is what precipitated the FBI’s columnist conference. Aggregate seemed to point to this one guy — 76-year-old brigand Bobby Gentile who had afresh undergone quadruple bypass anaplasty and was active a acutely quiet activity with his wife of 50 years. As the cameras clicked at that columnist appointment in Boston, Gentile sat in jail, cat-and-mouse to be bedevilled on all these charges. For the FBI to angle at a belvedere and acquaint the apple this story, they charge accept been assured they had their man. So what did Gentile do? He did not acknowledgment the art and aggregate a ample retirement. He did not allotment advice about the art in barter for a get-out-of-jail-free card. He pled guilty. Bedevilled to two and bisected years, he chose time over talking, and absolved out a chargeless man.
HORAN: Aback Bobby Gentile was appear from prison, one of the aboriginal bodies to go see him was Steve Kurkjian.
KURKJIAN: So he does get out of bastille in backward 2013 and he is smokingly affronted that he had collapsed for the bureaucracy that the FBI had entrapped him in.
GENTILE: It’s a curse. It’s a curse. I mean, it’s like a dream. I can’t accept this happened to me, broke my f—–’ life. Broke my f—–’ life. My wife’s home actuality for two years by herself with two burst arms, cipher to booty affliction of her.
HORAN: Gentile told Steve that the FBI was pressuring the amiss guy.
GENTILE: How can they clasp me? I don’t apperceive nothing. You apperceive what I mean? Never apparent the paintings. Never did annihilation to the paintings. Never alike talked about the paintings.
HORAN: But Bobby Gentile himself had been bent on abstruse recordings talking about “the pictures,” as he acclimated to alleged them. He remembered that meal in Maine with Bobby and Elene Guarente. He bragged about actuality a fabricated affiliate of the Philadelphia mob. Gentile additionally told Steve that he had not abandoned apprenticed to Philadelphia — he’d done so with addition mobster, who additionally happened to be alleged Bobby.
GENTILE: Aback and alternating they were doing, they were booking. They were booking. They'd go down, accompany the money if you appetite it. So I met a brace of trips to advice them drive aback and forth.
KURKJIAN: To Philadelphia?
GENTILE: Yeah. There was no cocaine. It was all about accession money from the bookmakers. HORAN: Maybe Gentile approved to cartage the baseborn Gardner art on one of those trips to Philly. In 2013, that appears to accept been the FBI’s best guess.
RODOLICO: If the Gardner art did apparent in Philadelphia about 2003, some key bodies there would accept accepted about it.
GEORGE ANASTASIA: This is the affection of South Philadelphia. That’s area we are.
RODOLICO: Meet George Anastasia. He’s covered organized abomination in Philadelphia for 40 years. He gave me a bout of the Italian bazaar commune — the angle on ice, the awnings, the bake-apple accumulated high.
ANASATASIA: And there was one abominable attempted hit, this block or I anticipate the aing block. There’s a guy who was sitting on a bank bistro some raw clams on a bisected carapace and it was a drive-by shooting.
RODOLICO: This adjacency was the mafia axis for generations. And Anastasia knew all the mob families. He finds it adamantine to accept those mobsters would accept accepted how to advertise any masterpieces, let abandoned Rembrandts. Aloof accede the time they got their easily on a Lamborghini.
ANASTASIA: These guys kept it in a barn for a while, afresh they got a tip the FBI was assimilate them. They approved to move the Lamborghini. They got an Avis rent-a-truck. But it didn’t accept lifts, or a ramp, so they acclimated two board planks to try to drive the Lamborghini assimilate the truck. It fell off the planks. They ashore the car. I mean, if they can’t accord with a Lamborghini, how are they activity to accord with a Degas, Manet, or a Rembrandt? I don’t know. It’s about alarming to anticipate about what ability accept happened to this adored stuff.
BARRY GROSS: The Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra has never been abashed with a adult group. It acclimated to be joked that they couldn’t go arctic of Broad Artery — they would be lost.
RODOLICO: A little arctic of Broad Street, I met Barry Gross, a retired mob prosecutor. Gross’s career in law administration started seven years afore the Gardner break-in and concluded four years afterwards the art allegedly alike in Philadelphia. Here’s the above arch of the Boston FBI at that columnist appointment again.
DESLAURIERS: Recently, we bent that about a decade ago some of the art was brought to Philadelphia area it was offered for sale.
RODOLICO: So what does Gross think? Was the art in his burghal aback the Boston FBI said it was? GROSS: Interesting. Uhm. I mean, they absolutely anticipate if they… Number one, I’m unaware… You know, I was in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Organized Abomination and Racketeering Section from 1983 — from February 1983 to the end of January 2007. So that’s 24 years. I prosecuted dozens of fabricated members, four mob bosses, capos, everything. I am not aware. I’m blind of this. Not a word. Never accept heard any of this.
RODOLICO: Wait, wait, not a chat of what?
GROSS: Of annihilation about this baseborn art.
RODOLICO: If anyone in the Philadelphia mob knew annihilation about the Gardner art, Barry Gross says he would accept accepted about it too. Mobsters adverse case didn’t alternate to rat out added abyss in adjustment to beating years off their bastille time.
GROSS: You know, your advocate can accomplish an argument, “Well he cooperated. He testified and helped convict, you know, on two murders, six extortions, and, by the way, judge, the Isabella Gardner Building paintings.” I mean, that’s all-embracing news.
JACK: And is that what leads you to accept that if there was alike advertence of these paintings actuality that you feel like you would accept heard about it.
GROSS: Yes. I feel I would accept heard about it, or one of my colleagues and we all formed actual closely.
RODOLICO: While we were in Philadelphia, we additionally batten with a above FBI abettor and a above federal prosecutor, neither of whom believed the Boston FBI’s apriorism about area the paintings concluded up. So if the Bobbys had them, what’d they do with them? Award a algid aisle in Philadelphia, we acknowledgment to the FBI’s actuality of absorption in Connecticut, Bobby Gentile. Afterwards he was appear from prison, the FBI beatific in added informants to try to set him up again.
KURKJIAN: And he avalanche for it.
HORAN: In 2015, the FBI arrested Gentile again, this time for affairs a gun to a felon, who happened to be the additional adviser to ensnare him.
MCGUIGAN: I accept with 100 percent — well, 99.9 percent, like Ivory Soap aggressiveness — that the two informants were paid actual able-bodied by the FBI. And they capital the gravy alternation to continue, so they would acquaint them anything. So all you’re accomplishing is you’re audition aback the advice that you’re giving, and afresh you’re saying, “Aha! It’;s accepted what I believe.” Able-bodied no, it’s not confirmed, you ding-dong. You aloof told the guy that, and he told you aback the aforementioned information. It’s aloof a anteroom of echoes.
HORAN: In the months afore the arrest, federal prosecutors say they got Gentile on band afresh civil he knew area the art was. Gentile’s attorney, Ryan McGuigan, has listened to some of those clandestine recordings. He claims Gentile never said annihilation incriminating about the art and that in at atomic one instance, the FBI’s archetype of the tapes doesn’t bout the band recordings. Still, there accept been abounding times aback McGuigan has been balked with his client.
MCGUIGAN: You apperceive how abounding times I’ve approved to exhausted him over the head, and I’ve approved to cajole him, I’ve approved to abuse him, aggregate I’ve approved — starting with the apriorism that, you apperceive what, he ability apperceive area these paintings are, and he’s just, for some acumen the FBI is appropriate and I’m wrong, and he’s a sociopath, and he thinks that this is all funny, and he’s arena a game.
HORAN: Steve Kurkjian has the aforementioned questions about Gentile. But he says aloof because the guy talks about the paintings doesn’t beggarly he knows annihilation about them.
KURKJIAN: I anticipate he said added than already that he’s a victim of his own con. And his own con being, aback in the appropriate company, which are bodies he wants to impress. He includes this attraction that he does accept admission to the paintings.
HORAN: Remember, for abyss who accept abandoned anytime accepted the amiss ancillary of the law, there’s an about alluring appetite to affix themselves to a big, headline-grabbing crime. Maybe that’s all Gentile was accomplishing — posturing.
KURKJIAN: Whom are you to believe? Is this Bobby, the con man, talking? Or does Bobby absolutely accept a added adventure of his captivation with the Gardner paintings?
RODOLICO: So you can see how the FBI would appetite to abide this ball with him because he keeps adage things that…
KURKJIAN: …gives anyone, anybody reasonable, the faculty that he absolutely does accept admission to the paintings.
AMORE: What I accept is that Bobby Gentile knows article about our paintings and will not acquaint us.
HORAN: The Gardner’s Anthony Amore doesn’t buy that Gentile doesn’t apperceive anything.
AMORE: If tomorrow there’s a beating at the aperture at the building and the Japanese Yakuza has our paintings, I would say, “How do you apperceive Bobby Gentile?” I’ve never in my activity conversed with addition so accommodating to lie about things that were demonstrably accurate than him. He knows article and he will not acquaint us.
HORAN: Ryan McGuigan knows his applicant fabricated it accessible for the government by again committing crimes they could ascendancy over him. But he asks: What has that advantage gotten the government? Twice, Gentile accustomed bastille sentences that could accept ensured he died abaft bars. Both times, he didn’t accord up any advice about the baseborn art. These are the aforementioned approach — with the aforementioned aftereffect — that the Boston FBI acclimated on the TRC Auto Electric gang, and it has to accomplish you wonder: Do these guys apperceive article or not? Is there aloof a accomplished chic of bent who would rather serve time, and alike die in prison, than abet with the feds? McGuigan says there was this one moment — added than any added — that assertive him that, in animosity of the FBI’s acceptance that Gentile knows something, he’s not their guy. In September 2016, McGuigan got a alarm from a bastille hospital in Arctic Carolina. His applicant was on his deathbed. He flew from Connecticut to be by Gentile’s side.
MCGUIGAN: And I looked up and his eyes were attractive appropriate at me. And he said, “It’s you. It’s you. It’s you. It’s my lawyer.” And he kept saying, “I can’t die here. I can’t die here. I can’t die here.” And I told him, I don’t apperceive if it was coldly or aloof amount of factly, that, “You’re gonna die.” And I told him that, “If you acquaint me area the paintings are, or annihilation added about the paintings that I charge to know, I can agreement you that I will accept you on a medevac even and you can die in your bed this actual night with your wife. Balloon about 5 actor bucks, balloon about 10 actor bucks. Balloon about anything. At the end of your life, what is the affair that’s best important?” And he had tears advancing bottomward both the abandon of his face. And he said, “But there ain’t no paintings.” And I looked at a defeated man, in the face of a defeated man. Afterwards that day I’ve never entertained the anticipation that that man has any abstraction area the paintings are because that day any animal actuality would acquaint you.
HORAN: Gentile survived that ordeal. He’ll be 82 aback he gets out of bastille backward this year.
RODOLICO: It’s been bristles years aback the Boston FBI opened “the final chapter” of their analysis into the Gardner heist. Bristles years aback the columnist appointment aback the advance ascendancy on the case claimed the baseborn art went from Boston to Connecticut to Philadelphia. That charcoal the abandoned account the FBI has anytime offered about what happened to upwards of $500 actor account of art. And it seems that what the FBI said doesn’t ascendancy up. The FBI has beneath to allocution to us, but we’re larboard wondering: Do they still anticipate that adventure is true? What added leads are they afterward that don’t absorb an old and lying bandit in Connecticut? In a adventure featuring so abounding capricious narrators, is the FBI one of them?
HORAN: So we abide to attending for added believable explanations about what ability accept happened to the art. And while we were in Philadelphia, we sat bottomward with a above FBI agent. A retired art accretion able who had a agrarian account to acquaint about the Gardner’s absent masterpieces. And his adventure wasn’t about Italian-American mobsters from the Eastern seaboard.
Next time: French abyss in Miami, an clandestine operation on a yacht and allegations of delinquency adjoin the Boston FBI.
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