In the Last Seen podcast Boston’s WBUR and The Boston Globe have teamed up to go on a deep dive into this good old fashioned whodunnit.
Let’s take a trip back in time: On New Year’s Day in 1903, infamous New York native Isabella Stewart Gardner hosted a grand party. She invited over 150 of her oldest friends to celebrate the New Year and to finally reveal her lavish new palace. After years of perfecting the building, its furnishings and its artwork, it was time for the public to see the gorgeous palatial candle-lit, flower-filled courtyard.
The palace, which would later be called Fenway Court, consisted of over 7500 paintings, sculptures, furniture, textiles, silver, ceramics 1500 rare books, and 7000 archival objects. These pieces were carefully collected from ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Renaissance Italy, Asia, the Islamic world and 19th-century France and America. As the awestruck guests roamed the Court, Isabella served only the finest of cuisine, which just so happened to be her favorite foods: donuts and champagne.
Little did any of the guests know that as the years carried on the palace, with the additions of galleries to host concerts, lectures and contemporary collections, the museum (which would later be renamed The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) would be referred to as one of the world’s most impressive private art collections. Much later it would also be known as the sight of the most valuable and confounding art heist in history.
On March 18th, 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as police officers entered the Museum and stole 13 works of art. Nearly 30 years later despite countless tips called in, the FBI’s involvement and a $10 million reward, not a single piece of the haul has surfaced. Neither have the thieves who made off with it.
In the Last Seen podcast Boston’s WBUR and The Boston Globe have teamed up to go on a deep dive into this good old fashioned whodunnit. Hosts Kelly Horan and Jack Rodolico leave no stone unturned as they look into potential suspects. They do this with the help of some never before released documents and never before heard tapes. The podcast also gets major players in the heist to come forward for interviews for the first time including the second security guard at the Gardner Museum who was there on the night of the heist.
As a Bostonian, I found Last Seen to be a fantastic piece of journalism. I binge listened to the entire season in a day and was impressed by the presentation and research that went into it. It was also incredibly educational. Not only on the heist itself but also on interesting topics like Boston’s criminal underworld and how the FBI conducts art related investigations.
This engrossing podcast is a must listen for your local Townie or anyone with a love for art. Or conspiracies. There’s a lot of conspiracies talked about here. Basically it’s perfect. It’s a new personal favorite of mine.