Book Reviews

 

 

A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma With No Conclusion; Art Heist Still Mystifies

Vineyard Gazette, Thursday, July 30, 2015
By Alex Floyd

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Boston gallery's $500 million art theft still a mystery 25 years later

Winnipeg Free Press, March 14, 2015
By Barry Craig

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Veteran reporter stays on the scent of Gardner Heist

Dorchester Reporter, Sunday, March 12, 2015
By Bill Forry

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‘Master Thieves’ is a treasure hunt

The Boston Globe, Sunday, March 14, 2015
By William McKeen

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A new look at a legendary art heist in ‘Master Thieves’

The Washington Post, March 13, 2015
By Art Taylor

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Kirkus Review

A reporter investigates a notorious art heist.

In 1990, two thieves made their way into Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and fled with 13 artworks, worth $500 million. Despite the FBI’s ongoing investigation, the thieves were never caught, and the art remains missing. Pulitzer Prize–winning Boston Globe investigative reporter Kurkjian worked on the story when it first broke, and in his fast-paced, though sometimes repetitious, debut book, he recounts the heist, the official investigation and his own probing into the case. Security was lax at the museum, making it possible for two men, dressed in police uniforms, to gain entry, secure the guards with duct tape and invade the galleries. Shattering protective glass, they cut paintings from their frames and left without detection. The FBI took control immediately, refusing to involve the Massachusetts State Police or the Boston police, which the author sees as a crucial mistake. Mob involvement was suspected from the start, and local authorities, as one Boston policeman put it, “knew every wise guy in the city and had some reliable informants.” As the case grew colder, the handful of FBI men assigned to it was reduced; three months after the heist, only one agent supervised. The author reveals the “Hollywood-style deal-making” used by the FBI to try to get mobsters to talk, but their efforts repeatedly failed. In 2013, after the Boston Marathon bombing, the head of the FBI’s Boston office tried to get the public’s help in identifying artwork they may have seen or tips on the perpetrators, but nothing emerged.

Based on interviews with scores of mob bosses, gang members, their wives, girlfriends, family members and lawyers, as well as with policemen and other reporters, Kurkjian believes he knows who did it. He has shared his findings with the FBI, and they come as the climax to this engrossing real-life crime story.

Original review »


Master Thieves

High-stakes heist

BookPage® Review by John T. Slania

The buzzer blared from the door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The night watchman peered into the grainy video monitor and saw two men in police uniforms. The men persuaded the watchman to open the door. Once inside, the men bound and gagged the watchman and a fellow security guard and made off with $500 million in stolen art. Among the 13 masterpieces taken in the March 18, 1990, heist were Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Concert.

Thus begins Stephen Kurkjian’s Master Thieves, a tale of one of the most brazen and expensive art thefts in history, still unsolved.

Kurkjian, an investigative reporter and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, pens the book like a mystery novel, examining the scenarios that the FBI has considered over the years. Was the Gardner Museum heist the work of organized crime or low-level thugs? Was it an inside job? Why was security so lax? Is the stolen art hidden in a backwater warehouse or a shed in the woods? Kurkjian explores all the possibilities and comes up with a plausible new theory of his own.

Master Thieves is a fast-paced book that will appeal to all those who enjoy art, mysteries and true crime. It’s a story that proves the adage: Truth is stranger than fiction.

Original review »


Possible leads in $500 million Boston museum robbery 25 years later: book

By Sherryl Connelly NEW YORK DAILY NEWS – Sunday, February 15, 2015.

The greatest art heist ever, when $500 million worth of masterpieces disappeared from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, is still unsolved. But Stephen Kurkjian thinks he may have found the small-time gangster who masterminded the heist, he writes in ‘Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist.’

The greatest art heist of all time remains unsolved, but a new book reveals that a small-time gangster may have masterminded the audacious 1990 robbery that relieved Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of a $500 million haul of masterworks.

The author of “Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist,” Stephen Kurkjian, also points the way to possibly recovering the missing masterpieces 25 years later. Paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer were among the 13 pieces of work stolen.

But Kurkjian, a 40-year veteran of the Boston Globe with three Pulitzer Prizes to his name, reports the FBI doesn’t seem all that interested in what he’s uncovered.

Empty frames still hang in the galleries where Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and Vermeer’s “The Concert” were on display until the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, when two Boston cops buzzed the security desk at 1:20 a.m. demanding entry.

Read the full review »

Kirkus Review

A reporter investigates a notorious art heist.

In 1990, two thieves made their way into Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and fled with 13 artworks, worth $500 million. Despite the FBI’s ongoing investigation, the thieves were never caught, and the art remains missing. Pulitzer Prize–winning Boston Globe investigative reporter Kurkjian worked on the story when it first broke, and in his fast-paced, though sometimes repetitious, debut book, he recounts the heist, the official investigation and his own probing into the case. Security was lax at the museum, making it possible for two men, dressed in police uniforms, to gain entry, secure the guards with duct tape and invade the galleries. Shattering protective glass, they cut paintings from their frames and left without detection. The FBI took control immediately, refusing to involve the Massachusetts State Police or the Boston police, which the author sees as a crucial mistake. Mob involvement was suspected from the start, and local authorities, as one Boston policeman put it, “knew every wise guy in the city and had some reliable informants.” As the case grew colder, the handful of FBI men assigned to it was reduced; three months after the heist, only one agent supervised. The author reveals the “Hollywood-style deal-making” used by the FBI to try to get mobsters to talk, but their efforts repeatedly failed. In 2013, after the Boston Marathon bombing, the head of the FBI’s Boston office tried to get the public’s help in identifying artwork they may have seen or tips on the perpetrators, but nothing emerged.

Based on interviews with scores of mob bosses, gang members, their wives, girlfriends, family members and lawyers, as well as with policemen and other reporters, Kurkjian believes he knows who did it. He has shared his findings with the FBI, and they come as the climax to this engrossing real-life crime story.

Original review »


Master Thieves

High-stakes heist

BookPage® Review by John T. Slania

The buzzer blared from the door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The night watchman peered into the grainy video monitor and saw two men in police uniforms. The men persuaded the watchman to open the door. Once inside, the men bound and gagged the watchman and a fellow security guard and made off with $500 million in stolen art. Among the 13 masterpieces taken in the March 18, 1990, heist were Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Concert.

Thus begins Stephen Kurkjian’s Master Thieves, a tale of one of the most brazen and expensive art thefts in history, still unsolved.

Kurkjian, an investigative reporter and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, pens the book like a mystery novel, examining the scenarios that the FBI has considered over the years. Was the Gardner Museum heist the work of organized crime or low-level thugs? Was it an inside job? Why was security so lax? Is the stolen art hidden in a backwater warehouse or a shed in the woods? Kurkjian explores all the possibilities and comes up with a plausible new theory of his own.

Master Thieves is a fast-paced book that will appeal to all those who enjoy art, mysteries and true crime. It’s a story that proves the adage: Truth is stranger than fiction.

Original review »


Possible leads in $500 million Boston museum robbery 25 years later: book

By Sherryl Connelly NEW YORK DAILY NEWS – Sunday, February 15, 2015.

The greatest art heist ever, when $500 million worth of masterpieces disappeared from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, is still unsolved. But Stephen Kurkjian thinks he may have found the small-time gangster who masterminded the heist, he writes in ‘Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist.’

The greatest art heist of all time remains unsolved, but a new book reveals that a small-time gangster may have masterminded the audacious 1990 robbery that relieved Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of a $500 million haul of masterworks.

The author of “Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist,” Stephen Kurkjian, also points the way to possibly recovering the missing masterpieces 25 years later. Paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer were among the 13 pieces of work stolen.

But Kurkjian, a 40-year veteran of the Boston Globe with three Pulitzer Prizes to his name, reports the FBI doesn’t seem all that interested in what he’s uncovered.

Empty frames still hang in the galleries where Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and Vermeer’s “The Concert” were on display until the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, when two Boston cops buzzed the security desk at 1:20 a.m. demanding entry.

Read the full review »