Boston University Students Foil Super Bowl Art Heist

The thief tried to make off with works by Chagall, Miró, Picasso, and Rembrandt.

Boston's Galerie d'Orsay. Courtesy Galerie d'Orsay

Three Boston University students foiled a would-be art thief who tried to take advantage of the celebrations following the New England Patriots’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons at the 2017 Super Bowl.

The thief was caught on camera breaking into the Galerie d’Orsay, triggering its alarm system. He is then seen running around the gallery, snatching paintings off the wall, before exiting clutching a bundle of framed works in his arms.

“There was a brick through the front door that was completely shattered, then there was a pane of glass shattered in the door itself, and that is how he was able to access—he put his arm through the broken glass to open the door,” Camille Super, one of the gallery’s fine arts consultants, told NBC Boston.

The hooded man then tried to make his escape, but the sight of a man running, clinging a number of paintings to his chest, aroused suspicion in local students Chris Savino, Jesse Doe, and Mackenzie Thompson, who were walking home.

“We were walking down to the Common after the Super Bowl…when we heard the glass break and saw some guy walking out with a bunch of paintings,” Doe said.

“We saw the guy come out with some paintings, looked at each other, and said, ‘This isn’t normal,'” added Savino.

“We yell out, ‘What’s going on—did you take those?’ He looks behind, sees us running after him, and he drops the paintings in attempt to flee,” Thompson explained. “We didn’t really have a thought process, we just grabbed him.”

The boys then detained the thief, identified by police as 29-year-old Jordan Russell Leishman, and flagged down a police officer driving by, who arrested him.

In total, the four canvases were worth around $45,000, and included etchings by Picasso and Rembrandt and lithographs by Miró and Chagall.

Gallery co-owner Sallie Hirshberg was, however, struck that the thief chose not to take a Picasso or a Rembrandt worth $90,000 each, and confused as to why the robber took a Chagall lithograph off the wall, but then decided to leave it in the entryway of the gallery on his way out.

According to the Boston Globe, Leishman was arraigned on this and previous charges, and was ordered to be held without bail regarding a separate assault charge. He is also wanted on undisclosed charges in the state of New Hampshire.

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