A Boston museum has doubled its reward to $10 million for information that leads to the return of 13 works of art stolen more than two decades ago in the largest art heist in U.S. history.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum's board of trustees announced the increase Tuesday.
"These works of art were purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner for the 'education and enjoyment of the public forever,'" said Steve Kidder, president of the museum’s board. "It is our fervent hope that by increasing the reward, our resolve is clear that we want the safe return of the works to their rightful place and back in public view."
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In the early-morning hours of March 18, 1990, two men disguised as police officers robbed the museum of approximately $500 million worth of masterpieces. They included works by Rembrandt, Manet and Vermeer.
"Every day I walk by the empty frames and the paintings aren’t there, it’s disheartening," said Anthony Amore, the museum’s security director. "Of course we’re not discouraged. This isn’t a sign we’re discouraged, are we desperate? Yes we’ve been desperate since March 18, 1990."
The FBI said in 2015 that the two suspects are now dead.
"We encourage anyone with information to contact the museum directly, and we guarantee complete confidentiality," said Amore. "This offer is a sign that our investigation remains active. Our hope is that anyone with knowledge that might further our work will come forward."
In 1997, the museum increased its reward from $1 million to $5 million. The new $10 million reward is available immediately but expires at midnight on Dec. 31.
"Typically stolen masterpieces are either recovered soon after a theft or a generation later," Amore said. "We remain optimistic that these works will ultimately be recovered."
Anyone with information about the art heist is asked to call the museum at 617-278-5114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Stolen art is hidden, it doesn’t make mistakes, it just sits there. We need people to help us with whatever information they might have and I’m hopeful this reward prods them to make that leap and make themselves rich," said Amore.