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The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston is known by many as the victim of history’s most famous art heist after two thieves made off with half a billion dollars’ worth of art from its galleries three decades ago in a still-unsolved crime. In a bizarre turn of events, the Gardner now finds itself indirectly connected to another, comparatively low-stakes theft after a man broke into the museum this weekend and threw a stolen painting inside.
The suspect, Robert Viens, a 48-year-old man from Randolph, attempted to break the glass of an emergency door on Saturday morning, causing the door to open. He tossed a package into the museum and fled on a bicycle. The mysterious object turned out to be a painting from the nearby Arden Gallery that has been identified as stolen.
It is unclear how or why Viens came into possession of the work, but he has been arrested on charges including receiving stolen property over $1,200 from Arden Gallery and vandalizing the gallery during an incident on January 11, according to the Boston Globe. (Gallery owner Zola Solamente declined to comment at this time, citing an ongoing investigation.)
Nothing was taken from the museum and no one was injured during the break-in, according to reports. “Museum Security acted quickly to prevent entry or further damage, and first responders from the Boston Police and Fire Departments responded and secured the scene and evidence,” the museum told the Globe.
The Gardner has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s request for comment.
The former panels, removed in 2017, featured images dedicated to Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.
One researcher, Jürgen Schick, estimated that over half of the region’s historical artworks have been stolen.
The Morgan Library & Museum Presents Another Tradition: Drawings by Black Artists from the American South
This exhibition celebrates the Morgan’s recent acquisition of drawings by Thornton Dial, Nellie Mae Rowe, Henry Speller, Luster Willis, and Purvis Young.
The visual arts institution and educational center is located in the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.
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Part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the Art Preserve also functions as a curated collection facility and is filled with immersive installations.