After 25 Years, FBI Knows Who Was Behind Daring Isabella Stewart Gardner Heist

It's being pinned on a bunch of dead crooks.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum may still be missing its beloved Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer paintings (although you can now see them online), but the names of the perpetrators of the notorious crime have finally been released. The two robbers were George Reissfelder and Lenny DiMuzio, both of whom died within a year of the heist.

The two men belonged to the crew of local criminal Carmello Merlino, who was first mentioned in connection with the 25-year-old robbery way back in 1992. Reissfelder and DiMuzio have also been suspects in the case for many years, but their role in the burglary is only now being confirmed.

The FBI announced last year that they had identified who was responsible, and revealed details about the investigation over the years, but declined to name names.

Reissfelder, a career criminal, was only free to commit the notorious crime because he was cleared of a murder charge in 1982 thanks to his lawyer, John Kerry, now Secretary of State.


John Kerry at the Temple of Dendur.
Photo: Department of State, via Twitter.

Kerry was appointed by the court to defend Reissfelder during his appeal, after the other man involved in the killing gave a death bed confession identifying another criminal as his accomplice.

After Reissfelder was released, he and Kerry, then a candidate for lieutenant governor, went out for a celebratory beer, an occasion that made local newscasts. Before long, however, Reissfelder was back to his criminal ways, including the Gardner job. Kerry, of course, stayed on the straight and narrow.

Merlino arranged the now infamous heist (possibly at the behest of another, unknown, party), in which Reissfelder and DiMuzio dressed as Boston police officers in order to trick the night watchmen into letting them in.

Lenny DiMuzio mugshot (May 1990).

Lenny DiMuzio mugshot (May 1990).

Then, they took their time, stealing 13 artworks including Rembrandt’s only seascape, The Storm in the Sea of Galilee, and Vermeer’s The Concert, which could be worth as much as $250 million today.

Less than a year later, however, Reissfelder died from a drug overdose, and DiMuzio was murdered, possibly because Merlino discovered a planned coup he was leading.

The paintings, of course, were never recovered, and Merlino died in 2005 from diabetes. The hunt for the paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner heist continues. Stay tuned.


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