‘This Is a Robbery’: Netflix revisits Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist




In the early hours of March 18, 1990, considered one of many world’s most worthwhile artwork heists handed off in Boston.

As revelers celebrated St. Patrick’s Day throughout the metropolis, two males disguised as Boston Police officers made off with 13 works from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum value a full of $500 million.

Among the purloined artwork have been Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, the one Rembrandt seascape in existence, and Vermeer’s The Concert. To these days, no arrests have been made and the artwork has certainly not been found, whatever the museum offering a $10 million reward for information leading to its restoration.

While the Gardner story is additionally well-known inside the Boston house, the theft will rapidly grow to be acquainted with worldwide viewers because of “This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist,” a new Netflix docuseries that arrives Wednesday on the streaming platform.

Directed by Colin Barnicle, “This Is a Robbery” is an episodic take a have a look at the entire saga, leaping backward and forwards by the use of time to produce up theories, decide suspects, and even current up on the courthouse as considered one of many heist’s suspects walks out of jail better than a decade earlier than anticipated.

The story hits close to the home for Barnicle and his brother Nick, who co-produced the film: Having grown up inside the Boston house as a result of the son of former Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle, Colin suggested Boston.com that as a result of the brothers began researching the case, they saved working into acquainted names.

“We’d read affidavits or judicial write-ups, and some of the names were people we knew,” Barnicle talked about. “Whether they were lawyers or police officers or even some of the criminals that we had met while my dad went around Boston, driving around writing columns while we were in the backseat. As anybody from the metro Boston area kind of knows, the city operates like a small town. Everybody knows each other, and you’re one degree away from everybody else.”

Long-time Globe readers will run into acquainted names and faces whereas watching as properly. Executive produced by Boston Globe Media Partners CEO Linda Pizzuti Henry, “This Is a Robbery” choices interviews with Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, Globe reporter Shelley Murphy, and former Globe Spotlight reporter Stephen Kurkjian, who wrote an in-depth e-book on the heist.

In an interview with Boston.com, Barnicle spoke about most likely essentially the most surprising discoveries he made whereas researching the theft, the one specific particular person he wants would’ve sat down for an interview, and why he’s hopeful the docuseries will spur new leads inside the long-unsolved crime.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. —Netflix

How prolonged did it take to supply the docuseries, from the idea stage to the final product?

We started researching it in 2014, and first formally pitched it that 12 months. We started taking photos in 2016, and in 2017, we made a pilot and pitched it everywhere. Luckily, we landed at Netflix, which was a suitable place. I gained’t say that the fashion of true crime caught a lot because it, however, once we had gotten the inexperienced light to do this in 2014, it probably wouldn’t have been almost nearly as good.

What surprised you most likely essentially the most every time you started doing evaluation for this docuseries?

The variety of people we knew. We’d be taught affidavits or judicial write-ups, and a few of the names that obtained right here out of it had been people we knew. Whether they’d been attorneys or legislation enforcement officers and even a few of the criminals that we had met whereas my dad went around Boston, driving spherical writing columns whereas we had been inside the backseat. As anybody from the metro Boston house is conscious, the city operates as a small metropolis. Everybody is conscious of each other, and in addition, you’re one diploma away from everybody else.

Secondarily, what was surprising was the case itself — that there have been no arrests, there was no evidentiary discovering, there’s no verdict for the case. There’s really nothing you’ll be able to file a Freedom of Information Act on for this case, as a result of it’s certainly not gotten to that stage. Finding proof throughout the case from the pores and skin, wanting in, was new to us. How do you get info from a courthouse in Suffolk County from 1986 that isn’t digitized? Things of that nature.

'This Is a Robbery': Netflix revisits Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist

Anne Hawley, Director Emerita of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, options questions in 1990 following the theft. —Netflix

There might want to have been hours of footage left on the slicing room flooring. How did you establish what to prioritize among the many many 4 episodes to most interesting inform this story?

I really feel we sat down on a digital digicam with about 60 people, and solely half of those make it into the sequence. We wanted to ensure that we had a four-part sequence that had a narrative arc the place somebody from Des Moines, Iowa, can watch it and somebody from Boston can watch it and actually really feel like they know merely as a lot in regards to the case.

My brother and I, we’re from the realm, nevertheless, the totally different producers weren’t, so we’d run stuff by them. Like, “Will people know where the museum is in comparison to the parade in South Boston? Would they know that the parade always happened on a Sunday?” We needed to enter these kinds of particulars, nevertheless, we moreover wanted to drill the story all the best way all the way down to its essence.

Who is the one specific particular person you prefer to you presumably can’ve sat down with who didn’t conform to an interview?

Definitely Rick Abath, the guard on an obligation that night. I spent principally 5 years calling his lawyer every week. He answered really detailed questions over e-mail, and it appeared like he was OK with being interviewed after about three-and-a-half years of working with him. And then one factor occurred in August 2019 — I don’t know what — nevertheless, they merely totally backed off.

He was fairly skittish about getting into the doorway of a digital digicam as soon as extra. I really feel as a result of there have been two grand juries held on this that he’s been involved about. Every time he says one factor inside the media that is fully totally different from what he talked about in that grand jury, he’ll get pulled once more in.

'This Is a Robbery': Netflix revisits Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist

A scene from “This is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist.”

The Gardner Museum nonetheless has a $10 million reward for information ensuing within the restoration of the stolen works. Do you suppose the artwork will ever be found? And do you hope this documentary will help?

I really feel if the docuseries don’t help, then they’re gone. Netflix really has 500 million people subscribed to it. This is like the most important wanted poster on the earth.

I do hope that this may jog one factor unfastened, a minimum of for a few of the minor works. I do know that the Eagle Finial, the least helpful of all of the works, was seen in Hartford — or a minimum of [authorities] suppose it was seen by an informant in Hartford, in a grease pit of [person of interest] Bobby Gentile’s.

With the lesser works, they are likely to be on an individual’s will, and in addition, you wouldn’t really know that they’d been stolen. If you go to grandma’s residence and she or he has [Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee] on her wall, that’s a little bit more durable to cowl. But I do suppose a few of them are available on the market for constructive.




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