Billboards to display stolen Gardner Museum art
Commuters driving along rain-soaked Interstate 93 and Interstate 495 today may catch a glimpse of a ship being tossed by an angry ocean — but it has nothing to do with the weather.
Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” one of 13 artworks stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 20 years ago this week, has been plastered on billboards in Stoneham and Lawrence as part of a campaign by the FBI to solicit the public’s help in solving the world’s biggest art heist.
Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Boston, said beginning today Clear Channel Outdoor is running an FBI poster on two of its digital billboards announcing the $5 million reward for the stolen art and urging anyone with information to contact the FBI and go to gardnermuseum.org for more information.
The billboards are on I-93 in Stoneham and I-495 in Lawrence, she said.
“It’s just another way to get information out to the public,” said Marcinkiewicz, adding that the FBI has been using digital billboards across the country since 2007 in an effort to catch wanted criminals. She said it’s the first time they’ve used billboards to try to help solve the Gardner heist.
Clear Channel Outdoor is offering the FBI the use of its billboards, free of charge, as part of a public service campaign.
Stephen Ross, president of Clear Channel Outdoor’s Boston division, said, “It’s a unique way to get the message out to the masses and a $5 million reward should be enough to entice a person to share some information.”
On March 18, 1990, two men dressed as Boston police officers talked their way into the Gardner Museum in the early morning hours, bound two guards on duty, and stole artwork valued at $500 million, including three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, a Manet, a Flinck, five sketches by Degas, the eagle finial from atop a Napoleonic flag and a Chinese beaker.
The identity of the thieves and the whereabouts of the artwork remain a mystery. The FBI is hopingDNA testing will help identify the culprits. At the same time, federal authorities are offering immunity from prosecution and promising confidentiality in exchange for the artwork. The Gardner museum is offering the $5 million reward.