False Facts In Last Seen Podcast Season One   

False Facts In Episode 1

Words taken directly from the podcast are in blue. 

1. HORAN: “The thieves wound duct tape around Randy and Abath’s heads from chin to scalp across their eyes and across their mouths with only a slit so they could breathe."

There was no duct tape covering Abath's mouth. See official crime scene photo above.

At a public talk he gave in Bedford, MA, Anthony Amore said:  He [Abath] had to stay like that until the police photographer came "because we needed to get the m.o. of how these guys did it." 

“We’re Boston police,” [Supervisor Patrick] Cullity told them. “Just sit there a couple of seconds longer; our police photographer is on his way and we don’t want to touch or change anything until he gets his pictures.” —Master Thieves page 59 

Later in the same episode the other guard, "Randy," can be heard saying: "I was afraid to call out because I thought it was still thieves and then they — if they hear me calling out — they might decide, “This guy's being unruly, let’s just kill him,” or I don't know, I didn't want to take that chance." So the reason Randy did not call out was because he was afraid, not because he had tape over his mouth that prevented him from calling out. 

2. KELLER: "The person who you let in through that door ultimately was just across a counter. from you." 

HORAN: "In other words, once the thieves walked in the door the night of the robbery, the museum was essentially theirs for the taking." 

That is not true and not "other words" for what Steven Keller said. Abath could have hit the silent alarm for starters. If that were true then Abath was not a security guard at all, he was a concierge.  

3. HORAN: "The thieves who robbed the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum tripped the motion detector alarms hundreds of times over the course of the 81 minutes they were in the museum." 

For the first one third of the 81 minutes they were in the Museum the thieves did not trip off any motion sensors. They also did not trip off any motion sensors for the last 12 minutes they were in the museum prior to exiting. 

They also only tripped off the alarms hundreds of times if you count the five times per minute the motion sensors went off, while someone was in a gallery without actually tripping off a motion detector by leaving. The motion detector only recorded exits and entrances to galleries: "To get the Manet out of the Blue Room undetected, "someone would have to have defeated one detector twice (in and out) or two detectors once each (pass through one door and out another)." —1990 Gardner Museum independent security consultant Steven Keller. 

Motion sensors only showed people going in and out of galleries: "You see them [the Gardner Heist Thieves] entering the room and leaving the room because there are sensors in the door jambs, NOT on the floor." — Last Seen independent consultant Stephen Kurkjian May 16, 2018 

The number of times that the two thieves were recorded going in and out of galleries combined is about thirty. 

4. RODOLICO: “Earlier in the evening the guards’ rounds had been interrupted by a fire alarm blaring from the museum’s carriage house outside. It had really spooked him. Maybe that’s why the cops had come and so he [Rick Abath] buzzed them into the museum.”

Rick Abath has done three interviews and written his own first-person account of what happened that night. He has given himself every opportunity to say the fire alarm going off an hour earlier was a factor in letting the fake cops in, and he has not. Abath has never once mentioned that earlier alarm incident on his shift before the robbery in any context. Last Seen did not interview Abath. His voice in the video is from an interview by Steve Kurkjian of Abath in 2013.  

An explanation offered by Stephen Kurkjian, consulting producer of Last Seen, in 2016, years after he last interviewed was that Abath "knew he wasn't supposed to let anybody in, but he thought that maybe some kids might have jumped over the back iron fence and gotten into the yard and there is a nursery back there for Mrs. Gardner's plants and he was worried about that."  

5. According to an interview of Abath conducted by the Boston Police, and filed in the official Boston Police report: "The victim further states that after gaining entry the suspects told the victim they were responding to a call for the kids outside the museum." 

6. RODOLICO: ”The thieves who pulled off the greatest art heist in history had a pretty simple plan."

They had walkie talkies and spoke in code numbers. — according the Boston Police report. “It was well planned, well thought out, perfectly executed.” FBI Gardner heist investigator Thomas McShane, "Boston's Unsolved Art Heist," Mission Declassified, Aired April 14, 2019

7. RODOLICO: "Nothing about what went down in the early morning hours after St. Patrick’s Day on March 18, 1990, fits the Hollywood-fueled mind’s eye notion of a museum heist." 

Only a small fraction of what “went down” is known, but disguises, walkie talkies, and speaking in code numbers certainly fit the bill.  And Abath said in a 2013 CNN interview that:  "He finished cuffing me, and he cuffed my partner and very dramatically said, ‘Gentlemen, this is a robbery’" on CNN. 

8. HORAN: “Thieves slashed “Christ In The Storm On The Sea Of Galilee” from its frame with something razor-sharp, like a box cutter,  Same episode: AMORE: “It’s a very clean cut." 

The definition of slash is to cut with a swinging motion. You can't slash and have a very clean, precise cut.  Also, the two paintings were not cut from the frames, they were cut from their stretchers, which does less damage than cutting from the frame, according to then FBI Gardner heist Supervisor Thomas Cassano in 2000.

9. RODOLICO: “We know from Anthony Amore's PowerPoint that the thieves, along with 13 irreplaceable artworks, were last seen at 2:41 a.m.”

The thieves and the art were not seen leaving. It is not even established that the time when they left, only that it was when the door was last open and shut until the following morning when the robbery was discovered. “We know how they came in, but we don’t know how they got out.”  Retired FBI Gardner heist Investigation Supervisor Thomas Cassano. And it was 2:45 not 2:41 that the door was last closed.

10. HORAN: “Remember, they were quick to get Rick Abath away from the panic button."  

In Abath’s own accounts, which are the only versions the public has, the thieves coaxed him away, they talked to him for a bit, then asked to see his identification. They did not hustle him away from the silent alarm (“panic button”). If you match up Abath's account with the other guard's, Abath did not step away from the security desk where the alarm button was located until after, the other guard, Randy, returned to the security station. About three minutes total according to Anthony Amore on the Herald podcast "Animal House,"  a week before this Last Seen Podcast episode aired.

11. RODOLICO: “81 minutes. From the moment they were buzzed in at 1:24 until they left at 2:41."  

That's not 81 Minutes that's 77 Minutes. (The door last closed at 2:45.) It is not established that they left by the door at that time.  

12. “We’ve mined all of it in search of new insights into this old case.”  Last Seen ignored my persistent attempts to even speak with them about the case, though I was interviewed by Stephen Kurkjian in 2014,  he tried repeatedly to meet with me again in 2016. I was interviewed for another Gardner heist podcast called Empty Frames that also came out in 2018. The name William Youngworth, who made national news over the course of several years with his not disproven claim that he could, and later that he could have returned some of the Gardner art, is not even uttered in Last Seen podcast.   

 Also production of the Last Seen podcast was kept under wraps 15 months until two months before it was launched, when the episodes were all but complete, depriving themselves of 15 months of free publicity and the opportunity for input from the community.  Why? 

"If you've spoken to me any time in the last 15 months, THIS is the secret @WBUR and @BostonGlobe podcast I've been working on! Please SUBSCRIBE and get ready for SO. MUCH. MORE" —Eve Zuckoff Last Seen Podcast Intern on twitter. July 19, 2018

Previously, Last Seen consulting producer Steve Kurkjian had stressed how vital community engagement is in recovering the art: 

"Secrets that could lead to the whereabouts of the artwork remain hidden among associates, family members and friends of the thieves, and it's these individuals who must be convinced to break their traditional code of silence," Kurkjian wrote. How does Last Seen podcast maintaining a code of silence of its own investigative reporting efforts, help break the code silence, purported to exist within the community that Kurkjian believes holds the answers?   

13. HORAN: “We are devoting our entire second episode to Rick Abath."
The entire second episode is not devoted to Rick Abath.  

14. RODOLICO: “A few months into his job, Randy began filling in on the overnight shift. The pay was better: “$11 an hour versus 7 or 8 bucks for the daytime shift.”

In “Master Thieves” by Kurkjian and “the Gardner Heist,” by Ulrich Boser, (both authors were involved in the making of Last Seen) report it was "Randy's" first night working that shift in their books. And less than a week before the release of this first episode, Anthony Amore said on the podcast "Animal House" Episode 39, less than a week before the podcast launched, that Randy "had very limited experience on the first shift." 

False Facts in Last Seen Podcast Episode 2

1. HORAN: “Imagine all the mistakes you’ve ever made. Now imagine that just one of them, one lapse in judgment in one millisecond in time, hung over you for all of your days to come.”

There was not one mistake or lapse of judgement made by Abath. On the contrary, there were numerous lapses in judgement: “1. Letting thieves or police into the museum at all.
2. not pressing the silent alarm or calling the police, 3. stepping away from the desk where the alarm and telephone were located, 4. failing to take note that there was no police car in view on the outside video monitor, 5. not authenticating the uniforms of the thieves, which were not real Boston police uniforms, or noticing they were not armed, like actual police. 6. Calling the other guard down to the security station without giving him a head’s up as to the reason. We have only Abath's account of what happened during the time he let the thieves in until he decided to step away from behind the counter. 

"The intruders managed to trick the guard behind the control desk into making his second critical error of the night: He stepped out from behind the chest-level desk, where he had access to the only alarm button in the museum, which would immediately alert police," Last Seen consulting producer Stephen Kurkjian wrote in 2005. There was clearly more than one lapse in judgement in one millisecond in time. 
2. All of these lapses unfolded over three minutes, not milliseconds. And if Abath were involved, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that he was then his mistake was a lapse in judgement spanning weeks or months. 

3.  HORAN: "The men who robbed the museum had help from the inside...and knew the police weren’t coming." 

The Boston Police reported stated that "the Officers observed on the scene that a small room to the right of the security station has been forced open and a video tape removed from a machine attached to a camera monitoring the guard station. also a strong odor of chemical mace present in the same. Further notice the same camera had been turned around to face the wall." If the thieves knew the police weren't coming, there would be no point in turning the camera to face the wall, since they intended to take the video tape on the way out. 

At 1:51, one of the thieves left the Dutch Gallery and proceeded to the Little Salon in the opposite corner of the building among the suite of galleries on the second floor. The Little Salon offers a view of the chief thoroughfare of the neighborhood,  The Fenway, as well as Evans Way to the East.   

A short time later, the other thief, still in the Dutch Room, where the lion's share of the art was stolen, perhaps at the prompting of the first thief, left the Dutch Room through a different exit, and went into the Tapestry Room.  At this point each of the two thieves were now in separate but adjoining galleries on the museum's East side. 

Another trip was made to the Little Salon, by one of the thieves, with time spent lingering in the Short Gallery, one of The Fenway facing galleries, where first responders would be most likely to arrive from since that is where the main entrance to the museum is and where there is lawful access to Palace Road, a one-way street. It could be, that the primary role of the thief, who spent time in the Short Gallery, and went into the Little Salon, was that of lookout, and the theft of the finial, and Degas sketches, were crimes of impulse and opportunity.   

Three of the guards in "Last Seen" made it sound almost routine for visitors to arrive at the museum late at night, including the museum director, Anne Hawley, who said she nearly went to the museum around the time of the robbery to pick up some papers, according to Ulrich Boser in the Gardner Heist, page 60.  So there was really no way of knowing the police weren't coming since anyone who came by and saw what was going on would call the police, and their movements in the museum did not demonstrate indifference to potential threats outside of the museum during the robbery.  

4. RODOLICO: “Why else would he [Abath] have to keep answering investigators’ questions and testify before a grand jury?"

Abath was allowed to leave and travel out of state the day of the robbery. He wrote that he went 17 years (1990-2007) “not hearing a word from the people charged with the task of solving the Gardner Museum Robbery.” Over ten years elapsed between the time of Last Seen podcast and his testimony before a grand jury. It was reported Abath was asked about the Gardner heist eve video at some point by investigators, that he didn't remember letting anyone in, he said. So Abath has not had to keep answering questions.

 5. And Abath would not have to keep answering questions. He is not legally obliged to answer questions and has at times been uncooperative. "Abath says, he’s always been forthcoming about his decision to open the door the night of the robbery," Horan says, as if quoting someone in this "deep dive" investigation takes away the need and responsibility for fact checking, especially in the cases where the podcast's consulting producer, Stephen Kurkjian has called some of Abath's behavior before and during the robbery as "truly peculiar, and gives rise to the belief that he knew something." 

"Although he is a pivotal witness in the world's greatest art theft, and has declined to assist in the investigation numerous times during the past 19 years, the Herald is identifying him only as Richard A. - his first name and the first initial of his last name." —Boston Herald April 12, 2019 

6. RODOLICO: “What if Rick Abath was the inside guy on the largest art heist in history?"

In the Gardner Heist eve video, the actions of the other guard together with and in the presence of Abath is suspicious.  To ask if he was the other guy suggests that investigators have already concluded, or that anyone should conclude, that if it were an inside job that whoever helped acted alone as the inside person. This is not the case.  The actions of the other guard in the Gardner heist eve video, and together with Abath are suspicious.

In his book, “Loot,”  Thomas McShane suggest there was  a guard other than Abath, who failed a polygraph and quit without picking up his final paycheck.  Page 308.

7. KURKJIAN: “And they had started their New Year’s Eve celebration at the house, typically, with a lot of drugs, and they were doing mushrooms, and he describes the goo that was made up for him and his pals."

Abath posted the story he wrote about this in 2015 and it was a Christmas Eve Party.

8. KURKJIAN: “Let me just read — and these are Rick's words — "My best friend Ed showed up just before dawn with someone we didn't know, a mousy kid who looked tweaked out on crystal meth.”

From Rick’s book excerpt: “My friend Ed showed up just before dawn with someone we didn't know. An odd squirrely kid who seemed out of place and nervous; we trusted Ed, but had no idea who the other dude was.

Nobody was tweaked out on crystal meth in Boston in 1989 and Rick Abath is someone personally acquainted enough with the drug culture of the time to know that. https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/crystalmeth/history-of-methamphetamine.html

9. KURKJIAN: “This is ridiculous. And now Rick is on the job here for at least a year.”

Abath started working at the Gardner on June 2, 1989, less than 7 months before the heist, less than 6 months before the party.

10. HORAN: “In 2010, Rob Fisher, the assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the Gardner investigation, had an idea.  Show me the security tape from the night before the robbery, when Rick Abath was also on duty. Show me that Abath opened and closed the door that night, and I’ll believe that he did it as a matter of course.”

Fisher was not the U.S. Attorney in charge of the Gardner investigation in 2010.  Brian Kelly was.

11. They did not start looking at the video in 2010, but 2013.
"The tape was collected just after the theft, but it is unclear whether it had ever been reviewed before 2013. United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a telephone interview that the prosecutor who took over the case about two years ago, Robert Fisher, pulled it from the stacks of Gardner evidence at the F.B.I. and viewed it during a 'complete re-examination of the case.' Tom Mashberg New York Times 8/7/15

12. HORAN: "Who is it [the person in the Gardner heist Eve]  video?"

AMORE: “It’s a person we’ve identified and we are absolutely certain that his entry was not connected to the heist in any way, shape or form.”

HORAN: “Anthony Amore won’t ID the night-before visitor. But three former security guards we interviewed confirmed his identity, as well as a source close to the investigation. The man in question was the Gardner Museum’s deputy director of security.”

The security supervisor was Lawrence O'Brien from Somerville, MA. Now deceased, O’Brien was still alive when investigators began reviewing the video in 2013.

The Boston Globe reported in 2015  that the theory that it was O'Brien was "discounted by investigators" and that his own brother and two other co-workers said it was not him. So now Last Seen is casting aspersions on not only O’Brien, a Viet Nam vet, and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, who was THE first responder to the Gardner heist robbery,  but also his brother. 

O'Brien was 5'6" according to his driver's license. Abath in the video is standing behind that counter across from the visitor. If the visitor, who is significantly taller than Abath is 5"6,” then Abath, would have to be 4’11.”

There was a photo of O'Brien that ran in the Boston Globe that was taken just a few days after the Heist and O'Brien did not have the close-cropped hair cut on the sides that the visitor in the video has. He does have his collar up, but the visitor's coat is waist length and O'Brien's coat is longer and is a darker color. 
Picture of the video visitor from WBUR:

From this news story:

A Picture of Larry O'Brien that appeared in the Boston Globe the Wednesday following the Heist taken the previous day.

BostonGlobe.com Slide 13 of 15.

13. HORAN: “In other words, once the thieves walked in the door the night of the robbery, the museum was essentially theirs for the taking.”

This bears repeating because if you say it often enough it might become true by magic or something, that seems to be the thinking here, because it is patently not true. After they were in, the guard could have pressed the silent alarm, called 911 or warned the other guard about the visitors in the Museum, or run.   

14. RODOLICO:  "Next time, we venture four miles from the Gardner Museum -- and a world away -- to a grimy little autobody shop that one investigator likened to a Grand Central station for criminals. 

It was not an auto body shop. And it was not particularly small for the kind of business it was. The name of the establishment was TRC Auto Electric, specializing in new and rebuilt alternators and generators. It was a free-standing building on Dorchester Avenue, in the Dorchester section of the city. Described in the Boston Globe in 1992 as a Vietnamese business district (Field's Corner), the city formally recognized as a city cultural district called "Little Saigon in 2020." 

Formerly TRC Auto Electric

There is no mention of the ethnic character the neighborhood in the podcast. Carmello Merlino can be heard shouting "Good Morning Viet Nam," on an FBI wiretap in 1997, from inside the building, upon arriving to work from his home in the suburbs, which was used in the Netflix documentary, "This Is A Robbery." A photo used in a companion article on the WBUR, the Vietnamese lettering on the Real Estate sign on the building.  

 None of  that fits the narrative of Boston as formerly a city with an archipelago of white ethnic enclaves, within its fold, where "criminals predominate," (Kurkjian in Netflix documentary), residents are suspicious of authorities and fearful of sharing what they know.  

“All these guys were South Shore  guys,” Colin Barnicle, director of Netflix "This Is A Robbery said in an interview.  The people alleged to be involved were not even from that neighborhood, or even Boston.   


False Facts in Last Seen Podcast Episode 3

1. LEPPO: ”This was a well-organized, a well-organized thing. The proof is in the pudding. They haven’t found a thing.”

HORAN: “By “they,” Leppo means the FBI. And he’s right. In the 28-and-a-half years since the heist, they haven’t found any of the stolen masterpieces.”

Martin Leppo didn't say stolen masterpieces. He said, “a thing.” He is a defense attorney, and there is every reason to believe that is what he meant. The fact is “they haven’t found a thing: since the FBI took exclusive control of the investigation on the first day. The have found zero evidence from at least seven crime scenes on three floors of the Gardner Museum. 

2. AMORE: “And Merlino would be at Walpole and he would have the most desirable cell. He would be in really well with the prison leadership because he was likable and people listened to him. And I don't want to say it's like that scene in "Goodfellas" where they go to jail and it's a big party and people are cutting up garlic for their pasta sauce, but Merlino made the best of it.“

Merlino went to prison for being a lookout on an armored car heist in the North End shortly after Christmas, on December 28 1968, twenty years before the Gardner heist. Even after he had been out for ten years, he was not a Mafia don, or even a member of the Mafia. He was kind of a little bit on the [Mafia] wannabe side, according to Ulrich Boser, author of “The Gardner heist.” 
3. RODOLICO: “The painting he dangled wasn’t a Rembrandt slashed from its frame at the Gardner Museum.”

There were no Rembrandts slashed from their frames in the Gardner heist, there were two Rembrandts “neatly cut” from their stretchers.

False Facts in Last Seen Podcast Episode 4

1. BOSER: “My name is Ulrich Boser, and I'm the author of "The Gardner Heist." My book argued that David Turner and George Reissfelder were the individuals who robbed the museum.”

To say that his book “argued” Turner and Reissfelder were the thieves is quite an overstatement:  “If Turner was involved, George Reissfelder was probably his main accomplice, the shorter thief.” Boser’s wrot in his book,  "The Gardner Heist," on page 199.

Somehow book reviewers missed what Boser claims is this essential point of his book. None I found online referenced Turner or Reissfelder. Publisher’s Weekly wrote: “After the death of a legendary independent fine arts claims adjuster, Harold Smith, who was haunted by the Gardner robbery. Boser carried on Smith’s work, pursuing leads as varied as James “Whitey” Bulger’s Boston mob and the IRA.”

And around the same time in 2018 Boser said on a different podcast Empty Frames that "I'm less certain about that we know the two individuals who walked in as much as we have that clustering, whether  its Leonardo DiMuzio, George Reissfelder, David Turner you've got the crewish we feel good about.  Boser's book perhaps insinuates it was Reissfelder and Turner. Argues implies that Boser provided evidence of their involvement. He does not. 

2. MURPHY: “[In 2016] "I was hearing some things about whether or not he might cooperate. And I looked at the Bureau of Prisons’ website, which shows a release date. And when I looked at it, I knew. I said that wasn’t the release date that was there before. And I noticed that the release date had changed. So that’s how I saw it, that I knew that he initially was supposed to get out on one date. And suddenly, they just took off a bunch of years.”
HORAN: “David Turner’s 38-and-a-half-year prison sentence was suddenly seven years shorter. Why?”
It was not suddenly seven years shorter.  The Boston Globe had twice reported three years prior, in 2013, that Turner was scheduled to get out in 2025 without remark, including one story that had a Shelley Murphy byline. 
There is no proof that Turner received a secret sentence reduction. The release date shown on the BOP website does not indicate or suggest a reduced sentence since the BOP.gov website which serves as the sole source for the Boston Globe’s secret sentence reduction story, states specifically, that: “the projected release date displayed reflects the inmate's statutory release date (expiration full term minus good conduct time)” and not the full sentence the person received from the judge.” https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/about_records.jsp

If Robert Gentile, for example served his full sentence he would have gotten out in 2020, not 2019, but the BOP.gov website very closely matched Gentile’s actual release date and not the sentence he received from a judge.  

One of David Turner’s partners in the Loomis armored car depot sting was Stephen Rossetti, who received a sentence six years longer  than David Turner for involvement in the same crime and Rossetti  was released from prison shortly before Turner.  

In May of this year, Murphy reported that  Relatives of federal prisoner Fotios “Freddy” Geas, Paul J. DeCologero, and Sean McKinnon, say they are being denied “basic human rights” in the Special Housing Unit at US Penitentiary Hazelton.  The article further states that McKinnon received and eight year sentence and will be out in 2002. McKinnon received an eight year sentence, and the BOP.GOV website does indeed show him getting out in 2022, but he was given that sentence in 2016, so by the Boston Globe formula the bop.gov should be showing McKinnon getting out in 2024, not 2022. 

Also Paul J. DeCologero, in the same story, Murphy reported DeCologero has "has five years left on a 25-year sentence," that would have him  getting out in 2026. Except DeCologero was sentenced to 25 years in 2006, so by the Boston Globe formula the bop.gov website should show DeColegero getting out in 2031, in ten years, not five.
Are McKinnon and DeCologero, like David Turner, recipients of a secret sentence reductions also? 

How about Devontay Douglas? In July of this year, six weeks ago as I write this, Douglas was sentenced to ten years for carjacking, and yet the bop.gov  website shows him getting out in 2027, not 2031. I did over a dozen searches on the justice.gov and the dea.gov websites, and matched their press releases up with the bop.gov website, and I not find a single instance where the BOP.GOV release date matched the sentence received by the inmate. The site always shows a shorter periode, reflecting the bop.gov's stated policy, of showing a "statutory release date, not the full sentence."

And even if  Turner had received a sentence reduction there is no evidence, or indication that it was  in any way related to the Gardner heist. This shows the desperation of investigators to tie David Turner to the Gardner heist, someone who received harsh consequences for his misdeeds at the hands of federal authorities. 

3. MURPHY: “It's frustrafting. All these theories are frustrating. For everything that points toward these particular suspects there's something that points away.”  

If there is as much exculpatory evidence, evidence, that points away as there is evidence pointing to the suspects, which is very little, then these are public relations place holders, not actual suspects.    

4. HORAN: “And after that? There are no credit card receipts for the day of the heist, March 18. But, Steve says, there is one for two days after — March 20.”
 KURKJIAN: “It showed he was turning in a vehicle, a rental car, at the Fort Lauderdale airport, and using his credit card to pay for that vehicle. But on that receipt is another driver’s license number.“
KURKJIAN: “This was a ploy by him in order to later tell the investigators, “Oh, I was in Florida at the time.”
HORAN: “It’s-- he created an alibi.”
KURKJIAN: “He created an alibi.”
Awkward wording about this piece of evidence (“Steve says” “it showed) return of a rental car in Fort Lauderdale well over 48 hours after the Gardner heist in Boston is not an alibi. Therefore, Turner didn’t “create an alibi.”

5. HORAN: “In 1974, the pair [Reissfelder and Beauchamp] escaped from prison.”

Reissfelder didn’t escape from prison, he simply didn’t return from a one-day furlough

6. BEAUCHAMP: “Turner was interested in getting out of the drug business. And I kept telling Reissfelder the same thing.”

There is no corroboration for any of Beauchamp’s claims and Anthony Amore, for one, has said Beauchamp is not credible: “Every single person, so far, one them is Myles Connor, one of his associates is Billy Youngworth, who's come forward and said it, this guy, his name is Robert Beauchamp, who was the prison lover of a guy named George Reissfelder, who I was talking about earlier, they're all charlatans and that's the nicest word I can use for them. Hucksters.

7. HORAN: “Even as that documentary aired, Santos was trying to find the courage to leave Reissfelder. She finally managed it in 1989. The following year, her divorce would come through, and her ex-husband would join a cast of men named in connection to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery.”

Reissfelder was not mentioned as a possible suspect in 1990 or until over 15 years after the Heist. Reissfelder has never been named as a suspect. No one has ever been named as a suspect. In 1990 there is no evidence to suggest investigators were looking for the kind of local suspects associated with the Gardner Heist for the past ten years. . 

Boston Globe 5/14/90 “As details begin to emerge about the two-month probe, law enforcement sources said that the suspects' movements are under close scrutiny by federal agents, including one suspect who was under surveillance during a recent arrival at Logan Airport… Sources were divided as to whether any of the suspects were currently in Massachusetts, noting that they frequently traveled from city to city.

The FBI made no attempt to speak with Myles Connor in 1990, Boston Globe 5/13/90, and never spoke with James “Whitey” Bulger about the robbery.

Interview of FBI Boston SAIC Richard DesLauriers May 13, 2013

Mike Nikitas: "Whitey Bulger got arrested a year and a half ago, have you ever talked to him about this, asked him whether he knows anything about it [the Gardner Heist]?" 
SAIC DesLauriers: "No."
Nikitas: "You haven't?" 
SAIC DesLauriers: "No."

Nikitas: "And you think it wouldn't be worth doing that?"
SAIC DesLauriers: "No. There's no connection to the Bulger investigation."

Nikitas: "Does he, maybe he knew of the theft?"
SAIC DesLauriers: "There's no connection to the Bulger investigation." Time: 4:03

“As of the time I left (in 2001), they knew no more than they did the day it happened."  —retired FBI agent and Gardner heist investigation supervisor Tom Cassano

Some months after we met, I called the agent [Retired Gardner heist FBI investigator Robert Wittman] to check in, and during our conversation, I asked him about some of the people who’ve been accused of being behind the heist over the years, people like David Turner and Bobby Donati and George Reissfelder. “Nope,” he said. “Don’t know them.” 2009  “The Gardner Heist” page 114.

8. RODOLICO: “Anthony Amore, who is still looking at the TRC gang, isn’t so sure [they were not involved [in the Gardner Heist].”

AMORE: “They were capable. You know, if someone mentions to you the Merlino gang, which was a pretty big gang, out of TRC Dorchester, no one doubted their capability to do any sort of crime. And they were doing all sorts of crimes. And to say that they could have pulled off the Gardner? Yeah, they could have done it. Absolutely.”

And in 2018, when Last Seen was still in production, Anthony Amore was asked if he know who did it, and he replied that he does know who did it, so Amore is sure whether it was the TRC gang or not.

Also, in 2017 Amore said "Eventually after ten years [Fall of 2015] because of certain people I was looking at, that I feel were involved, and I know Myles knew them. One night I decided it's time to meet Myles." —Anthony Amore 3/30/17

Myles Connor was not associated with TRC, or Merlino, or Turner, Reissfelder, or DiMuzio. None of these people or TRC are mentioned in Myles Connor’s own book, or in any public media account. So if the thieves were people who knew Myles Connor, to the extent that Anthony Amore would, after over ten years on the job, make the effort to go out  and meet with him, then the thieves are not from this TRC automotive gang, since Myles Connor and this gang are not connected. "Through Myles [Connor] you're moving away from mobsters or people who want to be affiliated with mobsters." —Ulrich Boser  

9. HORAN: “George Reissfelder does resemble the police artist’s sketch of one of the suspects. Long narrow face. Prominent chin. Bowl haircut.”

We don’t know what kind of haircut the thieves had from the police sketches. They were wearing police hats. One of the thieves was described as having “puffy black hair.”  In any case Reissfelder did not have a bowl haircut in 1990, and while he does have a prominent chin, it is a distinctly squared-off chain that is unlike the police sketch.

10. DESLAURIERS: “For the first time, we can say with a high degree of confidence we've determined that in the years since the theft the art was transported to Connecticut and to the Philadelphia area. For example, recently, we determined that approximately a decade ago some of the art was brought to Philadelphia where it was offered for sale.”

And an FBI press release from the same day ended with: “where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft.’”

Turner had been incarcerated for 7 years by 2003. Reissfelder died in 1991 eliminating the two men as people who could have been  to sell the art in Philadelphia at that time, and therefore, "responsible for the theft."

In addition, Abath has said numerous times that Reissfelder was not one of the thieves.  If Abath was not involved, then neither was Reissfelder. Abath: “I can tell you that George Reissfelder wasn’t one of the guys in the museum that night. For one thing he was too old (49 at the time of the robbery).  But also, from the pictures I’ve seen of him he was too swarthy. Unsub #1 was very white, not an albino but his skin tone was whiter than Reissfelder’s.”

False Facts in Last Seen Podcast Episode 5

1. HORAN: “But when the FBI agent crawled inside, he found nothing. So, no paintings, but there definitely was a hiding place.” 

There was nothing hidden in it and the entrance was not hidden or concealed. It was found with a flashlight from a distance, so it was a crawlspace, not definitely a hiding space. A hiding place in the “long abandoned house”  of a career drug dealer really suggests nothing in terms of possibly having the stolen Gardner Art.  If it was seriously considered a place where the art might be found, they would have brought in an evidence response team to look for paint chips or other evidence of the art having been stored there as they did at the old Suffolk Downs racetrack in 2015.

2. HORAN: There definitely was a hiding place. And that piqued their interest in Bobby Guarente as a suspect for having at least possessed the Gardner Museum’s art. On their way out of town, Amore and the FBI agent stopped off at the home of Bobby Guarente’s widow, Elene.

There are two very different accounts of both what Elene Guarente told investigators and how it came to be that she spoke to them about this at all. Two accounts, which would lead someone to come to very different conclusions about whether or not Elene Guarente’s late husband, Bobby, actually ever possessed some of the stolen Gardner art.  

First, there is Guarente’s own account that was reported in the Boston Globe, starting in 2012, and in “Master Thieves,” a 2015 book about the Gardner Heist by Last Seen’s consulting producer Stephen Kurkjian.

And then there is the other, new, Last Seen podcast version, which was released to the public on October 15, 2018, eight months after Elene Guarente died. Not only does Guarente not have the opportunity to give her side of the story, Last Seen does not even acknowledge that this other separate, contradictory account is part of the public record, even though it is largely the work of the podcast’s own consulting producer, Stephen Kurkjian:

Guarente was “adamant” according to Kurkjian, who interviewed her several times by telephone,  “that in March 2010, the FBI reached out to her, telling Elene that they wanted to talk to her about the Gardner heist and the missing paintings. She wouldn’t talk. Instead she reached out to Robert Gentile… ‘Bobby, I’m in need of money,’ she began. ‘I know my husband gave you those stolen paintings. You need to come to Maine to talk to Earle Berghman. He’s my soul mate. You two need to sort this out. If you don’t come, I’m calling back the feds.’” [page 144]

And when Gentile refused to come through for her, “Elene Guarente summoned the FBI’s Geoff Kelly and Anthony Amore, security chief for the Gardner, to her Maine home and relayed her suspicions about her late husband, Gentile, and the stolen Gardner paintings.  [page 146]

In the Last Seen podcast version,  investigators, whose interest was piqued by “a hiding place” in an old abandoned farmhouse, decided on their way out of town to stop by and see Elene Guarente. In Guarente’s own account, however, she first refused to meet with them but later invited them up to speak with her.  

The Hartford Courant briefly reported some of this Last Seen podcast version of the story in 2016, with a few differences in the factual particulars:

“A search by the Gardner investigators of Guarente's farmhouse turned up empty. But they got a break when they returned the keys to his widow, Elene Guarente. She declined to discuss the encounter with The Courant. But a person with knowledge of the event gave the following account: After first denying even being aware of the Gardner museum, she blurted out, inexplicably, ‘My Bobby had two of the paintings.’"

In September of 2017 the Courant reported that : “Elene Guarente's spontaneous statement early in 2010 invigorated the investigation and brought its weight down on Gentile.”

Elene Guarente  shared her version of what happened on the public record, but there was only “a person with knowledge of the event,” who offered a contradicting account of what happened in Guarente’s  meeting with investigators in her home in Maine. And that appeared  in a Connecticut newspaper 300 miles away. It was not until after Guarente died, nine years after the meeting in question occurred and six years after Elene Guarente had herself gone public with her version of the events that
In determining the truth of the matter, a lot hinges on the question of whether or not Elene Guarente did indeed speak “spontaneously,” If her revelation was not “blurted out” as “someone with knowledge  claims,” there is more reason to question her sincerity and credibility.

If Guarente did not actually see the art, as she told Kurkjian,  then it might be as Gentile said,  just talk. Another possibility is that Guarente and or Robert Gentile were at some point approached to serve as go bet
weens, but they never actually possessed or controlled the art. Perhaps they  were leery about how to go about it after what had happened to William Youngworth and Carmello Merlino in their publicized attempts to make a deal for the return of the stolen paintings and subsequent ruin.   

3. AMORE: She told us a story about when Bobby got out of jail for the last time that they went to Portland, Maine. And met with a friend of Bobby’s and his wife and they had dinner at a Howard Johnson’s up there.

It was lunch, not dinner, according to two people who were there, Robert Gentile and Elene Guarente,  and twin lobsters were on the menu, which certainly rules out Howard Johnson, a sit-down hamburger and fries chain, slowly forced out of business by the tsunami of fast food restaurants opening in the sixties and seventies. Anyone over sixty, who grew up in New England knows how laughable it is to suggest that Robert “The Cook” Gentile,  who “considers himself  a gourmet,” according to the Hartford, CT, would  eat at HoJo’s after a four-hour drive.

“It was nothing then for the couple to jump into a car and cross New England for a meal, according to the” Hartford Courant. But as the creatives in the fictional advertising agency Sterling Cooper observed about Howard Johnson’s on the Netflix Series, Mad Men, “it's not a destination, it's on the way to someplace.”

Throwing in the name of what was once the largest restaurant chain in America, Howard Johnson’s, may hold the listener’s interest better than, “nobody quite remembers the name of the restaurant but…” And “dinner” is better than lunch, since a lunch means they the gangsters exchanged these paintings with a bounty on them in the millions in broad daylight in a restaurant parking lot. But in these cases the details are important in determining where the truth lies in these conflicting stories. 

There seems to be a heartfelt and determined sense of entitlement that comes across in Elene Guarente’s own account that may or may not have been justified by the reality of the cards, or in this case the art, her husband was holding.

“’My Bobby was sick then,’ she recalled later. ‘He told me he wanted them [the stolen Gardner paintings] left with someone who’d make sure they were safe and would be able to provide for me. He thought he could trust Bobby Gentile with that job. The next year my Bobby died, and I never heard anything about it after that.’”

The ailing Bobby Guarente too, might have been less than forthright with his anxious, soon to  be widowed wife, possibly deluded or delirious, or putting in place a plan to apply pressure on Gentile into helping out his spouse after he was gone; a dying just trying to get through the day with a panic stricken spouse.   

For his part, Gentile denies Elene Guarente’s charge that he had the art. “That’s ridiculous,” Gentile practically spits back when told of the tale Elene Guarente shared. “I remember that lunch. But not because Guarente handed off any paintings to me. That’s crazy. He didn’t. What I remember most was that Elene ordered the twin lobsters. Two of them! And we were only having lunch!” [page 146]

The oft reported story of Elene Guarente’s lobster special lunch, even made it into the same episode, of Last Seen, as told by Gentile's lawyer, Ryan McGuigan. The story though, she did not deny it, puts her in the light of someone who could be thought of as grasping and self-centered.

According to Kurkjian in Master Thieves, “Amore advanced Mrs. Guarente $1,000 from the museum to have her car fixed, the reason she’d decided to contact them about what she knew.” [page 90]. Anthony Amore strongly denies he ever gave Guarente any money. True or not, it does suggest a stepping back from her original story and a lack of sincerity.

4. HORAN: They weren’t planning on spending much time with Elene Guarente. But something happened after Amore asked if she’d ever heard of the Gardner Museum.

AMORE: She said, "No." And we’re like, “Well, thank you, Elene, blah, blah, blah.” But I notice, I notice her hand shaking now. It starts to shake. And she starts crying. Like, seriously, crying. Not a tear. She’s crying, like, I have never experienced before. And she breaks down and says, “I have heard of the museum. My Bobby had those paintings.”

A similar story of a routine interview suddenly taking a dramatic turning point thanks to a telltale hand tremor, occurs in a 2017 nonfiction book about a different Gardner Heist suspect, Roderick Ramsay, called “Three Minutes to Doomsday,” [page 18] although for a different crime, that of espionage in 1988. The anecdote also appears in another book by the same author Joe Navarro, that come out in 2009, called “What Every BODY is Saying on page 147.”  

In this episode of Last Seen Amore say of this meeting with Guarente thus: “This small woman with short, dark hair opens the door. She was smoking.

So too was the subject in “Three Minutes to Doomsday.” The story of the suspect with the shaking cigarette has been a consistent feature of Navarro’s public talks since establishing himself as an FBI-trained body language expert over ten years ago:  

“I tell the story in the book what Every BODY is saying, but also in the new book that comes out in April called Three Minutes to Doomsday, that whole book is dedicated to this one espionage case, when I went out to talk to an individual [Roderick Ramsay] who was not a suspect, who we thought could just provide some background information, on things that were happening in Germany but when I mentioned the name of Clyde Lee Conrad, an individual who been arrested by the Germans. This man's cigarette shook in his hands and when I mentioned that name one more time his cigarette shook again.

Ramsay has never been acknowledged publicly as a Gardner Heist suspect, but on August 28, 2014, at 2:45 in the morning, Last Seen consulting producer Stephen Kurkjian sent an email to ex-FBI agent, author and body language expert Joe Navarro asking Navarro about Roderick Ramsay’s possible involvement in the Gardner Museum Heist.  

The similarities of these two stories by two investigators, both at least sharing a routine interest in one of the individuals, Ramsay, combined with other factual inconsistencies, the omission of competing narratives, and the fact that the story was held back until shortly after Elene Guarente was dead, raises doubts about the investigators’ account as told in Last Seen.

5. HORAN: Elene Guarente claimed her Bobby had two of the Gardner paintings. When Amore asked what the paintings looked like, she described an image of a woman sitting down, seen in profile. In two of the paintings stolen from the Gardner — “The Concert” by Vermeer and “A Lady and Gentleman in Black” by Rembrandt — there is a woman sitting, in profile.

In his 2015 book, Guarente told Stephen Kurkjian that in the early 1990s in Madison, Maine, Bobby Guarente had shown her a  painting of a woman sitting in a rocking chair with her head turned to the side,” like Whistler’s mother.   She later said she told investigators and a grand jury that they didn’t look like either of the two paintings stolen from the Gardner Museum in which women were seated in chairs [page 139].

The contention by investigators that with just a little prompting that Elene Guarente spontaneously said that she had seen the painting is questionable, doubtful.

As Last Seen consulting producer Stephen Kurkjian said in 2015: "Even though they say they've had confirmed sighting, that is not what it appears to be, that does not mean that an FBI agent or a trained investigator has had proof-of-life sighting of any piece of the missing [stolen Gardner] artwork.

What that means is someone whom they believe, some, let's say innocent or not so innocent third party says 'I've seen it and this is the account I'm giving you,' but they have no actual proof that they've seen it. It's just that the FBI believes what they've been told by one person.” 

“I know that person whom they believe did see something and I'm not a hundred percent sure. I've talked to her. I've talked to people around her, and I'm not so sure that the trust the FBI and the Museum have put into her is well founded." —Stephen Kurkjian NewTV interview, October 2015 Time: 26:35

But none of Last Seen consulting producer Stephen Kurkjian’s doubts made their way into Last Seen.

6. SHELLEY MURPHY: “Look, when the FBI says, "We solved it. We know who did it." It's like, "No, you don't!" Because you don't have the paintings.”

The FBI has never said “We solved it.” They have said over and over again since 2010 that they define solving it as getting the art back, and not in the knowing of who did it. Murphy is restating one of the investigator’s key public relations talking points, but it as a criticism of their messaging. This statement by Murphy was used by Last Seen Podcast in their podcast trailer. 

In 2013, FBI Boston's SAIC Richard DesLauriers 2013 stated: “Really, we’re past the point of the statute of limitations on this case, so we're not particularly interested in pursuing charges against those who are responsible for the theft. We're solely focused right now on recovering the paintings.”  

Murphy has been right there the whole time to help make this point clear to the public, writing in 2010 in the Bosotn Globe that: “Law enforcement authorities who ordinarily vow to catch and punish wrongdoers have adopted the unusual position of trying to woo anyone who knows where the artwork is stashed, with promises of immunity and riches.”  

False Facts in Last Seen Podcast Episode 6

1. HORAN: “About six months into Operation Masterpiece, something else happened that would mark a low point in Bob Wittman’s FBI career. It’s something he and his colleagues are still reluctant to talk about. It’s almost mundane, except that it’s the office equivalent of a back stab. The knife in Wittman’s back was a memo. It was written by the Boston supervisor and sent to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. It also went to Wittman’s old boss, Eric Ives."

RODOLICO: “So you're saying that the Boston office claimed to the D.C. office that you, Bob Wittman, were trying to get $5 million — the $5 million from the Gardner Museum. What did you think?"

WITTMAN: “It was disgusting and frustrating."

Wittman's response does not answer the question.  Was that or was that not what he was saying, that he Boston office claimed, that the D.C. office said he trying to get $5 million  reward? That claim would completely contradict what he wrote in his book.  "Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures:"

“About a week after our heated call, Fred [pseudonym of the Boston supervisor] penned an outrageously slanted EC, one that not only presented a lopsided version of the way Operation Masterpiece had unfolded but raised questions about my integrity. The most damning section included a claim by a French participant that I planned to delay the Gardner sting until after my retirement in 2008, so that I could claim the $5 million museum reward for myself. It was a preposterous allegation. FBI agents aren’t eligible for rewards for cases they’ve worked, even after they retire. Everyone knows that.” [Page 290].

So, it was not the FBI supervisor in Boston, who didn’t “know that,” and who accused Wittman of wanting the reward. it was a French participant, who accused Wittman of trying to delay the return until after he retired so he could collect the ward.

2. HORAN: “After 16 years, there was at last a plan in place to recover the stolen Gardner art. At least some of it. But then, Wittman says, the Boston supervisor canceled it, citing vague security reasons.”

In Wittman’s book it was a specific security reasons: "We’re hearing that Sunny [one of the targets of the FBI sting] thinks you’re a cop. So this changes everything, Wittman. We’re gonna have to ease you out of this—insert one of my guys or the French UC.” —“Priceless” page 287 The “vague security reasons” were that his cover was blown.

3. HORAN: “He’s essentially accusing the Boston FBI of misconduct.”

Wittman’s book makes it quite clear that it was not simply an issue with the Boston office, or the supervisor from that office. Authorities in France, where the actual exchange for the art was to take place, also were opposed to Wittman’s continued involvement.          
In his book Wittman wrote: “ “When I mentioned that it would be delayed for three weeks because Laurenz was going on vacation in Hawaii, Pierre [Tabel, chief of the national art crime squad.] burst out laughing.

“What’s so damn funny?” I asked.
“My guys in Paris, your guys in Paris, Fred in Boston, Laurenz off sunning himself at the beach when you want to do a deal, losing your friend Eric [Ives transferred to Hawaii (page 293)] from Washington,” he said. Everyone is giving you the banana to slip on.”
So not only the Boston office but “everyone,”  the Chief of the National Crime Squad in France observed, according to Wittman’s own book on page 294.  What Wittman describes in his book is not "misconduct," but a personally very disappointing change in direction.  

False Facts in Last Seen Podcast Episode 7

1. CONNOR: “Bobby was a typical, Italian crook.”
Nobody is a typical Italian crook.

2. “I wouldn't call him a mobster because mobsters are what you associate with organized crime. He wasn't that kind of a crook.”

Bobby Donati was that kind of crook: ““Revere police Detective Lt. William Gannon said that the body of Robert A. Donati, 50, of Revere, was found in his Cadillac on Savage Street in Revere by an officer on routine patrol about 1:25 a.m. Donati was a reputed associate of Vincent Ferrara, who is awaiting trial in Boston on federal racketeering charges. Donati, meanwhile, was said to be making collections from bookmakers and loansharks on Ferrara's behalf. Originally from East Boston, Donati had a lengthy criminal record involving arson, armed robberies and the theft of securities from the Boston Stock Exchange. Source Boston Globe September 25, 1991.

3. RODOCLICO: “Myles Connor was a rock star.  His band was called Myles Connor & The Wild Ones. He headlined clubs around Boston, and opened for big names, like Roy Orbison and Chuck Berry.”

Myles Connor was not a rock star. He played in clubs around Boston but never in Boston, or Cambridge. The only documentation of his music career that ever appeared in the Boston Globe was in advertisements by the Beachcomber for show-dates for Connor and his band on weeknights. There are no mentions of his opening for bigger acts, real rock stars, like Roy Orbison and Chuck Berry.

4. HORAN: “Connor was a Renaissance criminal. 

There has not been a “Renaissance criminal” in 400 years. What would a “Renaissance lawyer, or doctor, or Renaissance bus driver be?  Calling Connor Renaissance criminal is a badly phrased euphemism for a hardened criminal:

“Myles Connor is one of these guys who committed every type of crime you can imagine. Make a list. Brainstorm on crimes. He can check off every box. Sold drugs, stole drugs, robbed grocery stores, banks, homes, armored cars, implicated in the murder of two teenage girls. You name it. he's done it, a real bad guy.  Anthony Amore 11/12/14 Time 45:00

Also a con man and a Gardner heist huckster: “Every single person who said they could get the paintings back, one of them is Myles Connor, who's come forward and said it, they're all charlatans and that's nicest word I can use for them. Hucksters. —Anthony Amore  Anthony Amore Weston Library 10/29/13 Time: 1:24 

5. HORAN: “And he says the question of who he [Myles Connor] would and wouldn’t steal from was all down to a personal code. A kind of thief’s honor system.

There is no such thing as a thief’s honor system, and that certainly is not reflected in the violent criminal career of Myles Connor.  He is a “Renaissance criminal,” but one with an “honor system”?

6. HORAN: “It was a crime spree in the mid-1970s that solidified his reputation as someone who could outfox law enforcement.

HORAN: “ Myles Connor did four long stretches in prison totaling over 25 years in five decades. His internal organs were badly injured when he shot a state trooper and the police fired back hitting him “several times,” Connor wrote in his book, with his “shoulder taking the worst of the damage.” Connor was in prison for all but less than three years of the 70’s.    

7. HORAN: “Which, brings us back to that parking lot in Cape Cod, where Connor was nabbed with the five stolen Wyeth paintings.” 

“Connor was caught with four stolen Wyeth paintings, not "the five."  Three by N.C. Wyeth,  one by Andrew Wyeth and a reproduction of another Andrew Wyeth painting.”    

8. CONNOR: “And he said, ‘We've got you now, Connors. It'll take a Rembrandt to get you out of this.’ I said, ‘You know, you're right.’ And so then I set my heart on getting a Rembrandt.”

This is just one of at least three versions of the story Connor has told about what motivated him to steal the Rembrandt at the MFA.

In “Stealing Rembrandts,” by Amore and Mashberg, it was only well over a year later, when he was trying to figure out a way to avoid prison time, that he and a family friend in law enforcement came up with the idea of stealing  a Rembrandt: “

"I said, 'for Chrissakes, John, what will it take to get me off? A Rembrandt? And Regan told me, 'That just might do it.'"

In his own book Connor swears John Regan said to him ’Face it Myles, nothing short of a Rembrandt could get you out of this.’ I swear these are the words he uttered.”   

9. HORAN: “On a sleepy Monday — April 14, 1975 — Connor launched what sounds like a paramilitary strike on Boston’s MFA. Connor says there were three vehicles with eight armed men, one with a machine gun.” 

“Two unknown white males armed with 9 mm semi-automatics.” Boston Globe April 15, 1975. Also a Boston Globe review of Connor's book in 2009 by Shelley Murphy said of Connor's MFA Heist: "They pistol-whipped a guard who tried to stop them and escaped out a rear door," and nothing about a machine gun, and advises that: "The book is clearly shaded by Connor's version of the truth." The April 16, 1975 Boston Globe reported that shortly after 12:30 p.m. Monday, one of the robbers held an unarmed guard at gunpoint while another lifted the oil and wood panel off the wall." It is hard to know what was so sleepy about an early afternoon crime in the largest city in New England, four days before a two days visit by President Gerald R. Ford to kick off the county's Bicentennial celebration. 

10, CONNOR: “As the exit was made down the front steps there was a phalanx of guards that came rushing down.”

Boston Globe reported just two guards responding to the theft before the thieves left the building.

11. CONNOR: “And there was a guy with a machine gun, brrrrr. Let the machine gun go off. They went right back.”

There was no machine gun.  As the thieves fled to a waiting car, the armed man fired three shots, hitting no one but adding a movie-scene flourish to what was then thought to be the most expensive art heist in American history.”

12. CONNOR: “The guy would not let go of the painting. The guy ran up to the back of the van and latched onto the painting.” 

They left the scene “in a black and gold Oldsmobile or Buick” Boston Globe April 14, 1975 afternoon edition.

13. HORAN: Don’t shoot the guard,” Connor said. One of them smashed him in the head with the butt of a gun.”

"The guard tried to stop the men as they ran toward the turnstyles inside the entrance and one of them clubbed him with a pistol butt." Boston Globe April 15, 1975

The thief who removed the Rembrandt from the Boston MFA was described by witnesses as a white male, about 20 years of age, 5-foot-9, about 140 pounds, with long blond hair. 
Myles Connor, 5-foot-6, was 32 at the time of the theft, and claimed he was wearing a brown wig and leather chauffeur's cap to cover his red hair,
during the MFA robbery, when he took credit for this violent crime decades later. 
Connor better fits the description of the other thief: "White male, 5-foot-6, about 135 pounds, about twnety years of age." This is the suspect police said "fired two shots at the museum guard." 
And if the taller man was the one who took the painting out of the museum then  
then it was the shorter crook, possibly Connor,  
that clubbed John J. Monkouski 66, of Dorchester, a retired Boston Police, with a pistol butt, who then required "a number of stitches" for a head wound at Peter Brent Brigham Hospital. 

 14. HORAN: “There was just one problem, as Martin Leppo recalls. On March 18, 1990, Connor was serving a long federal sentence for drug trafficking.  

Not true. “After months of allegedly selling about $500,000 in stolen 17th Century paintings by ''old masters'' and other antique artifacts to an undercover federal agent, authorities said Myles Connor Jr. was arrested Wednesday night when he allegedly sold the agent a kilogram of cocaine. Connor was charged with transporting stolen property and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.”
Leppo was not Connor’s lawyer for these charges in Illinois.

The recollections of an 87 year old confident of Myles Connor, concerning something that happened 30 years earlier, of which he had no direct involvement, is what the Boston Globe and WBUR consider being worthy of the term “deep dive” into this historic case?

15. HORAN: “He  [Myles Connor] was in prison in Lompoc, California. 
He was not. According to newspaper accounts and his own book, Connor was in the Sangamon County Jail in Springfield, IL  awaiting sentencing, not serving a long sentence, according news stories at the time and his own book. His sentencing was delayed twice after the Gardner heist. Connor and his cohorts had plenty of opportunity to try and initiate a deal.

16. LEPPO: “When the Gardner was hit, Myles became the No. 1 suspect. Did he orchestrate it? And so forth and so on. So that was number one. 

That was not "number one." Connor had been in jail in Illinois for over a year before the Gardner heist. The FBI didn't even try to talk to Connor: “We've made no attempts to speak with Myles Connor. FBI Supervisory Agent Edward Quinn. "He has not been requested to meet with the FBI Connor’s defense attorney Boston Globe 5/13/90. He was not the number one suspect.

17. CONNOR: “How I'm 100 percent sure that they [David Houghton and Bobby Donati]  did it was because David Houghton, who was longtime friend of mine, flew all the way from Logan Airport to California just to tell me: “‘We've done with. We did it. And we got a bunch of paintings, and we're gonna use a couple of these paintings to bargain you into a reduced sentence.’"

The Mensa member, Myles Connor, doesn't even know what state he was in when Houghton supposedly told him he and Robert Donati robbed the Gardner Museum to get him out of prison.

From Connor's 2009 book, page 285, In the Fall of 1990 I was transferred to federal penitentiary in Lompoc, CA." Also in his book he says that "several weeks later [of March 1990] I received an unexpected visitor, David Houghton... "David's visit was the last time I heard from either man [David Houghton or Robert Donati]." So that means Connor's visit with Donati was in Illinois. It would have to have been several months later for him to have been in Lompoc, CA.

18, HORAN: “He settled on one that was on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Portrait of Elisabeth van Rijn,” Rembrandt’s sister.

It is not the artist’s sister.

19.  The correct name of the painting is “Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak,”

A “proposed identification for the sitter is Rembrandt’s younger sister Elisabeth (Lysbeth). However, Rembrandt executed this painting in Amsterdam and Lysbeth apparently spent her whole life in Leiden.”

“The same model appears in two other paintings that Rembrandt executed in 1632: “A Young Woman in Profile with a Fan in Stockholm, and Bust of a Young Woman in a Cap in a private collection in Switzerland…The presence of these four paintings featuring the same model by Rembrandt, and his workshop makes it highly unlikely that Young Girl in a Gold-Trimmed Cloak was a commissioned portrait. Interestingly, the same model, in a nearly identical costume, appears in two of Rembrandt’s history paintings from the early 1630s: “as Europa in The Rape of Europa, in the J. Paul Getty Museum, and as the woman (Esther?) in the Old Testament scene in Ottawa.

“Portrait of a Girl,” once believed to be a rendering of Rembrandt’s sister, inspired the facial types of many of Rembrandt’s heroines in the early 1630s.

False Facts in Last Seen Podcast Episode 8

1. HORAN: “At 5:30 in the morning on Christmas Eve, 1980, Fred Fisher, then the 40-year-old director of the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, New York, awoke to a telephone call from police. Someone had tried to rob the museum.
The robbery attempt was on December 22, 1980, so the phone call would have been on December 23rd, not Christmas eve.
The Post-Star December 26, 1980:
A van driven by Mary ------- W------, 26, of Watervliet, arrived late Monday [December 22, 1980] When the driver left the van to pick up the package, she was allegedly confronted by a man with a gun who forced her back into the van and made her drive to Oakland Avenue in Glens Falls, which runs parallel to Warren Street and behind the Hyde Collection. So it was December 23, not “Christmas Eve.”

2. HORAN: “When he was arrested in Glens Falls, McDevitt explained his alias to police by saying “I was doing this to avoid trouble with Massachusetts authorities regarding a particular legal affair.” That’s con man code for felony.”

That’s not any kind of code, con man or otherwise.  McDevitt was saying his alias was defensive in nature, intended to avoid the authorities and consequences of his past actions, not as part of a plant to commit more crime.

3. HORAN: “An article in The New York Times outed him [McDevitt] as a prime suspect in the Gardner heist.” 

The New York Times said he was an intriguing suspect, not a prime suspect. And he wasn’t outed, he came out:

“William J. McMullin, a spokesman for the F.B.I.'s Boston division, would neither confirm nor deny the identity of the suspect. But Brian M. McDevitt, a screenwriter who moved from Massachusetts to California about two years ago, acknowledged that he had submitted to F.B.I. questioning in his lawyer's office in Boston about the robbery…McDevitt garrulously discussed the case by telephone” for the story.”
When McDevitt was on Sixty Minutes sixth months later, Morley Safer observed "you do get the distinct feeling that he [Brian McDevitt] wants you to believe he did steal the [Gardner Museum] paintings."

4. HORAN: “Brian McDevitt served two years for kidnapping and attempted robbery.”

“McDevitt, who was 20 at the time, served a few months in jail for the attempted robbery.” —Boston Globe 3/18/17

Convicted of unlawful imprisonment and attempted grand larceny, they [McDevitt and Michael Morey spent less than a year in jail. “Loot: “Inside the World of Stolen Art”  by former FBI Art Crime investigator Thomas McShane

5. RODOLICO: “Former FBI Special Agent Thomas McShane was also in Boston on March 18, 1990. He’d been among the first on the scene of the robbery at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.”

McShane was also NOT in Boston on March 18, 1990

"I was summoned to Boston on the Monday after the weekend robbery."  From McShane’s book “Loot” page 307 

6. HORAN: “His fingerprints would be among the first to be sent to FBI headquarters in the wake of the Gardner Museum robbery.”

Mr. McDevitt said he had been questioned for an afternoon and had allowed himself to be photographed and palm-, hand- and fingerprinted.  So it was over a year and a half before anyone’s fingerprints were sent to FBI headquarter in the “wake” of the Gardner Museum robbery. Eighteen plus months is not “in the wake” of the robbery.

7. MCSHANE: “Brian Michael McDevitt. He was interviewed by the FBI and immediately afterwards he took off to California. This is a con man of a nature of Bernie Madoff.”

Media coverage would seem to contradict this claim that McDevitt was interviewed by the FBI before he took off for California in around June of 1990. Part of McDevitt’s attention-getting campaign for his status as a Gardner Heist suspect, was his talking about the extent to which he was being investigated by the FBI.

If the interview with the FBI in 1992 was the second interview and his second refusal to take a lie detector test, he would have said so. If they had met with him in 1990 to the extent that he refused to take a lie detector test, which McShane wrote in his book, then why did they wait until 1992 to fingerprint him?

Here is a report that suggests that a suspect fitting McDevitt’s description was being scrutinized, but not interviewed from page 1 of the May 14, 1990 Boston Globe: Suspects' movement are under close scrutiny by federal agents, including one suspect who was under surveillance during a recent arrival at Logan Airport. Investigators are looking at some suspects because methods they have employed by previous robberies closely resemble those used in the March 18 theft. This would certainly describe McDevitt who lived at   

Two stories, one in the Boston Globe and one in the New York Times seemed to suggest that this interview of McDevitt by the police was something new for him: 

“Speaking by telephone from Los Angeles, Mr. McDevitt said he had been questioned for an afternoon and had allowed himself to be photographed and palm-, hand- and fingerprinted,” in around Autumn of 1991.”

There was a day last autumn [1991]  when Brian McDevitt siting in the office of his small loft house in Hollywood Hills, proposed writing a screenplay about a brazen art theft during which thieves hid the stolen treasures deep in a German cave. Just a few weeks later, McDevitt found himself at the center of an investigation into the largest art theft in history, when the FBI summoned him back to his lawyer's Salem office and asked him what he knew about $200 million in paintings missing from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Boston Globe 6/2/92

In his Sixty Minutes interview, McDevitt seemed intent on maximize the extent he was being watched and suspected by the FBI, so it would have been in his interest to mention he had been interviewed in 1990 if that were the case.

False Facts in Last Seen Podcast Episode 9

1. RODOLICO: “This now vacant lot was once a rented, warm weather getaway for a Boston gangster who tops the list of Gardner suspects.”

Whose list of Gardner suspects does Guarente, dead 14 years in 2018, top? The only thing connecting Guarente to this property is his name on some government forms, and the story about which government forms those are has changed. There is no way of knowing what the function of the house or the address was. His wife said she did not know anything about it.    

2. LUISI: “And they were talking about the artwork. And he says, "I know where the art's buried." He said it's in Florida under a concrete floor.”

Originally Luisi said it was buried in a cellar in Florida. But then, there are no cellars in Florida.

At the time of the initial story, in 2016, Luisi was promoting a website and a self-published book about his transformation from Mafia capo to Christian evangelist. After his 1999 arrest on drug charges, Luisi agreed to cooperate against mobsters from Boston to Philadelphia. Why didn’t he bring up what Guarente allegedly said to him then? Why would agents wait until 2012, to ask Luisi about Guarente when they had suspicions about Guarente going back to 2010?

3. RODOLICO: “Steve knew Guarente had lived in Boston and Maine. But buried in his paperwork on him, he found a DEA report with an address he’d never previously noticed.”

In his Boston Globe story about this in 2016, Kurkjian reported Maine State Police records indicate that Guarente listed a lakeside home in Orlando as his residence for several years in the early 1990s,” and there was no mention of a DEA report. In the Boston Globe story, Kurkjian reported that The FBI has searched Guarente’s property in Maine, and Gentile’s property in Connecticut, repeatedly. Kurkjian was aware of a property that should be of interest to the FBI based on a federal DEA document, that the FBI did not know about? Maybe they just did not take an interest in it?

4. RODOLICO; “The lawn rolled down to a white sand beach. Ferrari didn't remember Guarente, who'd rented the house in the early '90s.”

The fact that a professional drug dealer had an out of state address attributed to him on some government forms is not proof that he personally rented the property.  

Guarente’s widow, Elene, said she was unaware of any Florida property connected to her husband, “but he was always traveling one place or another without telling me where he was going.”

5. HORAN: “There was just one problem. This lead wasn’t about just any anomaly buried underground. It was about the Gardner art, which made this Orlando lot potentially a crime scene.”

A septic tank, which, Last Seen Podcast's "big dig" uncovered is not an anomaly on a residential lot in Orlando.  

One of the more commonplace functions for Ground Penetrating radar systems is locating Septic tanks. “Trained professionals can easily check the scanned results and let you know what is located under that concrete slab rebar.”

If there was any chance was going to be found at this location, the FBI's Geoff Kelly and Anthony Amore, who had both been officially involved in the investigation for well over ten years would have been there. 


Community facts are community property. In an open society, the public relies on news sources such as the Boston Globe and WBUR, an NPR affiliate, to disseminate, and preserve the facts of shared community interest and importance.
Howeverlast year’s Last Seen, the award-winning podcast by WBUR and the Boston Globe, about the 1990 Gardner Museum heist, performs the opposite of that most essential mission of journalism, that of informing. Instead, Last Seen consistently misinforms the public, to such an extent that it is not an overstatement to say that misinforming is a principal characteristic of Last Seen podcast.
The ten podcast episodes ran weekly from September 16 through November 19 of 2018. Since then, little to nothing has been done to extend interest in the podcast beyond accepting, a couple of podcasting awards, with something approximating a bare minimum of acknowledgement.

Nonetheless, Last Seen lives on, not only as a podcast, but also through the podcast transcripts, which are hosted by both WBUR and the Boston Globe websites.

These transcripts and other online Last Seen  materials, are thoroughly “spidered” by google and Bing, and highly ranked on these major search engines, as are the companion articles, videos and related media.
This Last Seen online juggernaut has made itself a top tier stop of initial or casual research on almost any specific topic related to the history of this epic travesty. While the sheer scope of the production with its emphasis on delivering mass market entertainment value, is sure to captivate many,  it falls far short of accurately informing any who encounter Last Seen podcast and related content. Transcripts of the ten Season One are part of the permanent electronic archive of the Boston Globe daily newspaper.

This Gardner Heist media juggernaut has surpassed and sidelined even more significant past coverage of the Gardner heist by WBUR itself.  When in 2013, the Garner Museum did an exhibit related to historic crime by Sophie Calle, also called “Last Seen.” In this WBUR news story about the exhibit,  Gardner Museum director Anne Hawley was quoted recalling:

"The museum was experiencing these bomb threats coming from people in penitentiaries that were trying to negotiate with the FBI on information they said they had — and the FBI wasn’t responding to them, so they were hitting us."

This blockbuster disclosure has gone ignored by the local media and by Last Seen podcast, although Hawley repeated the claim in a subsequent interview with Emily Rooney on WGBH in December of 2013. It surpasses anything newsworthy in terms of our understanding of the Gardner Heist or the ensuing investigation from this 2018 Last Seen Podcast.

While the Gardner heist remains an open case, Last Seen is really a podcast about history, about a single specific, sad but spectacular event from 1990, as well as the investigation into who did it and the efforts to get the art back since  And although it was produced by two generally reliable media sources, the Boston Globe and WBUR, and is a podcast about history, it is not a history podcast. Significantly there were no historians involved in its production.

It would be a difficult to find a historian who has or would be willing to endorse this highly promoted, high profile podcast. The production is replete with false information. Last Seen effectively pollutes the community data stream, in passing along fallacies and bolstering false narratives about the Gardner Museum heist and its investigation. Inaccuracies in Last Seen now adulterate the facts everywhere from google, to google news and outward to the Gardner Heist Wikipedia page, to high school research projects on the case.

Mrs. Clark's APUSH Class 2019 (A Block).
Gardner Heist Documentary

The false narratives found in Last Seen, though not  originating with the podcast, include a false narrative suggesting that in the days, weeks, and years following the Gardner heist, there was a standard kind of investigation by the FBI, an investigation comparable for example with the investigation of the Worcester Art Museum robbery in 1972, and the Lufthansa heist at LaGuardia Airport in 1978, as well countless other FBI investigated crimes found in books, television programs, and films.

The Gardner heist investigation, Last Seen Podcast asserts, sought not only to recover the stolen art in the early years, which they did, but that they also sought to figure out who was responsible for the thefts, and bring them to justice. But this whodunnit aspect was never a part of this FBI investigation.  

Last Seen Podcast misleads the public and listeners to the podcast on this facet of the FBI’s exclusive (by fiat) response to the case in two ways: “First, by inserting events into the historical record in 1990, that did not occur at that time, and also by placing considerably more doubt about the possible involvement of security guard Rick Abath, than the evidence known from the very first day of the investigation logically justifies  

Another false narrative of Last Seen, one which did originate with the podcast, is that the FBI conducted a similar kind of standard investigation, to identify the visitor in the Gardner heist eve surveillance video, which the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, released to the public on August of 2015.

After years of investigation the FBI concluded, according to Last Seen, that the individual in the video was, after all, none other than the Gardner Museum’s very own Deputy director of security: “Three former security guards we interviewed confirmed his identity, as well as a source close to the investigation.” —Last Seen Episode Two

The director of security at that time, retired Army Lt. Colonel Lawrence O’Brien, died after investigators began taking a renewed interest in the surveillance tape, but before an excerpt was released to the public. 

Additionally, an extreme makeover for Myles Connor, by Last Seen transforms this career criminal from con artist, “huckster,” to credible source, as well as from cold-blooded cop shooter, into a kind of rock ‘n roll / art thief folk legend; another false narrative and a particularly odious one of Last Seen Podcast  

Connor spent over 80 percent of his time in the quarter century prior to the Gardner heist and all of the decade following it, serving long sentences for four separate arrests and convictions.

Finally, despite the FBI’s acknowledgement that they know who the thieves are, Last Seen serves up  a rapidly rotating carousel of possible Gardner Museum robbers. The names of these mostly mutually exclusive “suspects” serve as virtual sentries on the front lines, of protecting the highly classified identities of the actual thieves. And Last Seen podcast’s roster of possible perps is not even a complete list, according to Kelly Horan, the senior producer and a senior reporter of Last Seen said, in the podcast’s final episode: “

“The only thing more cluttered than our brains is the cutting room floor. There are characters and storylines and theories that are so compelling, we just couldn't fit them all in,” Horan said, kicking off Episode 10.

Last Seen does not challenge, disprove or endorse any particular theory. What it does do is flood out the question of who the thieves were, with so many competing possibilities, that nothing makes sense. Serious research into the topic leaves the mind “cluttered.” More information renders less meaning. Meaning is unattainable in the case of the Gardner Heist, at least that was the experienced of the investigative journalists at WBUR and the Boston Globe.

Are we to be a society of crowd sourcing, where those in authority use information technology to engage with and derive quality feedback from the communities they serve? Or one of crowd saucing, where this technology is used to manufacture consent by rulers, who presume to know better, without community input. 

When it comes to the Gardner Heist investigation it would appear to be the latter.  
Less than a month after the release of Last Seen’s final episode, Anthony Amore was interviewed on a podcast called “The Horse Race” by Steve Koczela, who is head pollster of WBUR. Koczela to Amore said in the interview: "I've read the book, I've read several books, everyone is listening to the podcast now, will the Gardner paintings ever be found?"  And Amore finished his reply with: “Don't believe the books. Don't believe what you read in them. Suspend disbelief and know that people are working really hard behind the scenes."

Four of the authors of “the books,” Robert Wittman, Ulrich Boser, Thomas McShane, and Stephen Kurkjian, as well as Amore, co-author of “Stealing Rembrandts” were all involved in the making of Last Seen. Kurkjian was the podcast’s consulting producer.
Flooding the information space with multiple scenarios, and suspects based on weak, nonexistent, and misused evidence, and factually incorrect information requires a conduit, and Last Seen podcast delivers, blasting away into the community property of facts, with deliverables of fallacies, and false narratives, for an icing avalanche on the cake, of a campaign of misinformation, which began in early 2015, led by the Boston Globe.

Can we afford to only push back when it is personally inconvenient or offends our own sensibilities, or does each incursion demand pushback? Does each instance not embolden those in power, and those who seek it, to employ these dark arts of mass communication again and again?  

When an investigator speaking about the Gardner Heist says: Eyewitness accounts are really unreliable. It's quite common that they give descriptions, but the descriptions are usually inaccurate,” as Amore has done, how long before someone applies that false information in a jury box or some other legal proceeding?

The misinformation is supplied for a specific context, but if it is believed, then it has the potential for being applied in other less suitable situations as well.  This may make work in countries running on their oil and mineral wealth, as is the case with Saudi Arabia and Russia. But a knowledge-based economy, like the United States, depends on the free flow of ideas and a smooth flow of accurate information .  

This report is not an emotionally pitched laundry list of the arguably specious. This is a report about matters presented as fact in the podcast Last Seen podcast by WBUR and the Boston Globe that are demonstrably false: Names wrong, people wrong, times wrong, dates wrong, places wrong, titles wrong, actions wrong, and descriptions wrong, a tip suggesting an iceberg.

Kerry Joyce
Copyright 2021


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