March 14, 2015

Prize-winning Boston journalist Steve Kurkjian looks at the investigation of the 1990 robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in his book "Master Thieves"

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Boston journalist Steve Kurkjian, author of another book on the Isabella Stewart Gardner theft  in 1990 ("Master Thieves, Public Affairs), is interviewed by Dan Rea on Nightside. 

The Christian Science Monitor's book editor Majorie Kehe interviews Kurkjian here about his 2015 book.

Art Taylor for The Washington Post includes this in his review of Kurkjian's "Master Thieves":
Kurkjian clearly knows how to work his beat — he won three Pulitzer Prizes while at the Boston Globe. For this book, he interviewed low-level criminals long suspected of the crime and he reached out to mob bosses for answers. And most impressive, he delivers the story of Louis Royce, who discovered the museum’s security lapses while sneaking into the galleries during his troubled teen years. Royce claims that he passed that information along to his criminal connections and that someone picked up his tip and carried out the heist. 
Placing the theft in historical context, Kurkjian charts the evolution of Boston’s gang wars in the 1980s and details how criminals have used stolen art to bargain plea deals. He also looks at the Gardner’s security issues, everything from troubles with the museum’s board to personnel lapses, and he examines failures in the FBI’s treatment of art crimes, building stark comparisons to more-successful European approaches. Notorious gangster Whitey Bulger’s story lurks along the edges of the narrative, and Kurkjian argues that Bulger’s capture in 2011 and the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers in 2013 provide models for how crowdsourcing might be used to locate the missing Gardner masterpieces. Kurkjian has gathered so much information that explaining the smallest bit of it leads to a spate of cross-references, qualifications and digressions.
William McKeen for the Boston Globe reviews "Master Thieves" here.

And here are previous posts on the ARCA Blog related to Kurkjian's reporting on the still unsolved Boston art theft: "Tip to Authorities ..."; Kurkjian's interview with security guard; and the FBI's awareness campaign.

Kurkjian's book is available in print and can be electronically downloaded on iBooks.


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