History Timeline 1990's

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U.S. Timeline - The 1990s

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  • 1990 - Detail

    March 18, 1990 - The largest art theft in U.S. history occurs in Boston, Massachusetts, when two thieves posing as policemen abscond twelve paintings worth an estimated $100-200 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

    1990 Boston Art Theft

    What Did They Steal?


    Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) - Rembrandt van Rijn
    A Lady and Gentleman in Black (1633) - Rembrandt van Rijn
    Self Portrait (1634), an etching on paper; - Rembrandt van Rijn
    The Concert (1658-1660) - Jan Vermeer
    Landscape with an Obelisk (1638) - Govaert Flinck
    Chinese vase or Ku
    Five works on paper - Edgar Degas
    A finial from the top of a pole support for a Napoleonic silk flag
    Chez Tortoni (1878-1880) - Edouard Manet

    The theft began in the early morning hours when two thieves, dressed as Boston police officers, stated to the guard on duty at the front desk that they were responding to a call. After binding the two guards on duty, they roamed the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and stole thirteen, almost priceless, works of art. Today, the value of the works would approach $500 million. One of the oddities of the case is that the thieves, while stealing very valuable pieces, passed by others of equal or greater value.

    The art has still not been recovered or the thieves caught. There is a $5 million dollar reward offered by the museum. The theft still remains the largest private property crime in United States history. While the investigation into the stolen art has led to a trail into to Connecticut and south to Philadelphia, it has not been recovered and the thieves are still at large.

    Photo above: Montage of three of the art pieces stolen in the heist: The Concert by Vermeer and Rembrandt's Storm in the Sea of Galilee and A Lady and Gentleman in Black. Source: Wikipedia Commons. Other info sources: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.




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If you've never been there, or it's been awhile since you've taken a trip to Washington, D.C., the nation's capitol is a treat for anyone interested in the USA and its history. From the spectacular museums of the Smithsonian, to the recent addition of the Holocaust museum and the Newseum, too, there's so much to see and do. One of the best new attractions is the World War II Memorial. It will make you wonder what took them so long and just why there was any controversy about adding this museum to the space between the Washington Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

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