March 23, 2013

Gardner Heist: Night watchmen Rick Abath Gives Exclusive Television Interview to Randi Kaye in "81 Minutes Inside: The Greatest Art Heist in History" which aired on Anderson Cooper 360 on March 22

Rick Abath, one of the nightwatch men on duty March 18 when two men stole 13 paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, gave his first television interview to Randi Kaye for her story "81 Minutes Inside: The Greatest Art Heist In History" which aired on Anderson Cooper 360 CNN on March 22.

Rick Abath, who had working at the museum for about a year, began his night shift at 11.30 p.m. He explained that guards took turns walking through the museum and manning the security desk next to the employee entrance. On the night of the theft, Abath's "usual partner had called in sick" "so they paired him with a daytime gallery guard".

Ms. Kaye narrates:

Abath takes the first round which takes longer than usual. The fire alarm goes off for no apparent reason -- so does another alarm on the fourth floor. Then the other gallery guard does the round. It is 1.24 a.m. and Rick is alone at the guard desk. Two men dressed as Boston police officers buzz the side entrance and tell Abath that they are there because there's been a disturbance on the property.
Anthony Amore, Director of Security for the Isabella Stewart Gardner, explains to Ms. Kaye that it was against museum policy for the nightwatchman to let anyone into the museum.

While Abath concedes that this may have been the written policy, Abath says that the "culture" was to let museum employees in at night "at least once a month", including the director of the museum. "So it wasn't unusual for Rick to hear that buzzer go off," Ms. Kaye narrates.

Rick Abath explains that he had no reason to believe the men were not police officers until it was too late to reach the panic button.

The panic button on the guard's desk was not easy to reach. "It was the same kind of panic button at a bank or something," Rick Abath said. "It was up on the underside of the desk. But it was a fairly long desk and the computer that you had to be at to do your job was all the way to your left and it was all the way to the right so it just wasn't within arms reach."

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