Showing posts with label Charley Hill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charley Hill. Show all posts

September 8, 2015

Charley Hill, Dick Ellis, and the Recovery of Paintings Stolen Six Years Ago

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Museum Security Network sent out a link to an article in the United Kingdom's The Daily Mail about the recovery of stolen art: "Millions of pounds worth of paintings stolen from the country mansion of cider heir found by 'The Scream' sleuth".

The Scream referred to in this article is the painting by Edvard Munch stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 and the subject of Edward Dolnick's 2006 book The Rescue Artist (which won the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime). The back of the book describes the investigation:
Baffled and humiliated, the Norwegian police turned to the one man they believed could help: a half English, half American undercover cop named Charley Hill, the world's greatest art detective... a complicated mix of brilliance, foolhardiness, and charm whose hunt for a purloined treasure would either cap an illustrious career or be the fiasco that would haunt him forever.
I have never met Charley Hill (here's a link to some background on Hill and The Scream), but over the years we have corresponded via email on subjects related to art crime that have been covered on this blog (such as this). So I shot off an email to Mr. Hill and asked for his comment. He responded that Dick Ellis would be the best person to quote because "it was his job" and that the recovery of the artworks taken from the Somerset estate of Esmond and Susie Bulmer had nothing to do with Hill's work in recovering "The Scream".

Dick Ellis is the retired founder of The Metropolitan Police's Art and Antiquities Squad at New Scotland Yard in London.  He is also an annual lecturer with ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. Emma Jones wrote about Ellis for The Financial Times in 2013 and CBC Radio interviewed him here. Ellis wrote an email today for the ARCA blog:
The recovery of the Bulmer's stolen paintings again focuses attention on to the increasing role of the private sector in the investigation and recovery of stolen art, antiques and cultural property. With many countries facing a continuing period of austerity cut backs, their law enforcement agencies have seen even fewer police resources being devoted to this area of crime.

In this particular instance, the victims suffered the trauma of a violent robbery at the hands of five masked criminals who bound the house sitter to the stairs where she remained for some 18 hours. The loss was substantial and included jewellery, sculpture ,and a canteen of silver cutlery in addition to the 16 paintings valued together at £2 million.

Whilst the police response to such a violent crime was swift, the investigation was uncertain as to the direction it should take.The lack of understanding of the commodity, stolen fine art and antiques, is common to many law enforcement agencies and not just to those in the UK underlining the lack of training that police receive in this subject.

In 2010, a year after the theft, the victims and their insurers turned to the private sector for help as it was here that they could utilise the services of professional art crime consultants and investigators. 

Working with the police but independently of them, I was able to revitalise an investigation that had lost both direction and police resources. With regular progress reports the police were able to continue to develop their investigation without devoting vast resources to the enquiry, leaving them free to attend to the day to day pressures of policing.

In June 2015, whilst I was lecturing to the ARCA students in Italy, Charley Hill took a telephone call from a friendly journalist and was introduced to her source who was willing to share the information he had. On my return to the UK, Charley introduced me to the intermediary and we were then able to work together to achieve the recovery of the stolen paintings.  

The recovery required working with the insurers, their lawyers and with the police and provides a model of how art recovery in the future will depend far more on the resources and expertise of the private sector working in partnership with law enforcement.

The inside story of the this recovery will form the basis of the lecture on the future of art recovery to be given during the 2016 ARCA course in Amelia, Italy which will also look at the authentication and forensic examination of stolen art.
In 2016, Ellis will be teaching "The High Stakes World of Art Policing, Protection and Investigation" June 8-10 and June 13-15 in Amelia, Umbria. You may find out more about ARCA and the postgraduate certificate program in Italy here.

August 11, 2014

The Times Magazine: Alexi Mostrous writes about Julian Radcliffe and the Art Loss Register in "The murky world of the art detective"

In Britain's magazine for The Times, Alexi Mostrous discusses the controversy surrounding Art Loss Register's founder Julian Radcliffe and alleged payments to art thieves in "The murky world of the art detective" (August 9, 2014). Mostrous reports that the Art Loss Register 'claims to have returned more than £150 million worth of paintings, artefacts and sculptures to their rightful owners in the 22 years since business began' and has 'more than 400,000 objects currently listed' in its stolen art database:
Were the ALR a business built solely around this database, then Radcliffe would be a useful, if uncontroversial member of the art world, something like a particularly proactive lost property clerk. But Radcliffe is no clerk, and he and his company enjoy a far more glamorous sideline, earning hundreds of thousands of pounds a year tracking down and recovering stolen art on behalf of insurers and victims of theft. It works like this: Radcliffe’s network of sources around the world tip him off about the locations of stolen paintings. For a substantial fee, they may provide “information” which somehow leads to the stolen artwork landing in Radcliffe’s hands. The ALR man has collected paintings left for him in the boot of a car and by a layby. It’s a system shrouded in mystery but then, Radcliffe claims, it gets results.
According to Mostrous, 'Thanks to a series of internal aides-memoire written by Radcliffe between 2004 to 2012, and leaked to The Times, it is possible to reveal for the first time just how far the ALR is willing to go to recover stolen masterpieces.'

Mostrous' article includes comments from two ARCA associates who previously worked for Scotland Yard: Dick Ellis (an ARCA lecturer) and Charley Hill (an ARCA advisor). You can read the article here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/magazine/article4167385.ece.

Another article in May 2013 highlighted the work of Dick Ellis: Emma Jacobs writing for The Financial Times "Lessons from an old master" which you can read here: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b27c1392-c2cf-11e2-bbbd-00144feab7de.html#axzz3A5egUa3q.

May 10, 2013

Norway Celebrates 150 Anniversary of Munch's birth; BBC Broadcast Interviewed Charley Hill last February on the Successful Return of The Scream in 1994

Celebrating the 150 anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch, the National Museum and Munch Museum in Norway will exhibit more than 200 of the artist's paintings in "Munch 150" on June 2.

Here's a link to a BBC World Service broadcast last heard in February near the anniversary of the 1994 theft of Edvard Munch's The Scream. Charley Hill, former undercover police officer for Scotland Yard's Art and Antiquities Squad (his boss was ARCA Instructor Dick Ellis), describes how he posed as Chris Roberts, a consultant with the Getty Museum to negotiate the purchase of the stolen painting. The broadcast concludes the show with the statement that three of the four convicted of the theft successfully appealed on the grounds that Mr. Hill entered Norway under a fake passport.

Here's a summary of the facts on the 1994 theft as reported by the BBC.

Theresa Veier, an art history and lawyer in Oslo, wrote for the ARCA Blog about the artist and the theft of his work more than 65 years after Edvard Munch's death.

January 15, 2013

Norwegian police suspect Irish Travellers of Stealing Chinese Artifacts from the West Norway Museum of Decorative Arts in Bergen last week

Maeve Sheehan, a contributing writer for Irish Independent, reports in Irish Traveller gang linked to audacious Norway art heist that Norwegian police "suspect the same gang of Irish Travellers who have already been linked by Europol to a string of robberies, money laundering, and counterfeit goods" in last week's theft of Chinese artifacts from the West Norway Museum of Decorative Arts in Bergen.

Last October, former Scotland Yard art detective Charley Hill spoke of the similarity between "the Irish Traveller raids on art in the 1980s through 2010" and the break-in at the Kunsthal Rotterdam.  Private art investigator Arthur Brand offered his suspicions earlier on this blog regarding the Kunsthal Rotterdam and a theft a year earlier of rhino horns from the Natural History Museum across from the Kunsthal.


November 13, 2012

Kunsthal Rotterdam Theft: Private art investigator Arthur Brand suspects Irish gang involved in rhino horn theft last year and last month's robbery


Matisse painting stolen last month from Kunsthal

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Dutch private art investigator Arthur Brand has a theory that ties two seemingly unrelated museum thefts together: the theft of the rhino horns from Rotterdam’s Natural History Museum and last months’ theft of paintings from the Kunsthal Rotterdam.

Mr. Brand, who described himself as “well informed about art thefts in Holland”, introduced himself via the Internet and told me that I could ask former Scotland Yard detective Charley Hill to vouch for his credibility (which Mr. Hill did via email).

In a conversation via Skype, Mr. Brand extended the dialogue begun last month on the ARCA blog by former Scotland Yard art detective Charley Hill in regards to the Kunsthal robbery:
Mr. Hill: My view is that this theft was particularly well organised, done quickly and in the almost certain knowledge that the thieves and what they stole would be long gone by the time the police arrived. Also, the thieves were apparently not opportunists such as the two with a ladder at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam some years ago who smashed a window and took the two pictures nearest the broken glass, nor were they Balkan bandits with machine pistols like the ones who hit the Munch Museum in 2004, or the Buhrle Collection in Zurich a few years ago.


The closest pattern I know is of Irish Traveller raids on art in the 1980s through 2010. The pattern in Rotterdam the night before last was closer to that. See the art crimes of The General as he called himself, Martin Cahill of Dublin. Interestingly, one of Cahill's gang, George Mitchell, known as The Penguin, lives close to Rotterdam where he works in commodities with his Colombian, Russian, Dutch, Brit, Irish and other friends. I wonder if he has a part to play in this? He could do something about getting those pictures back, I'm sure, if any good Dutch police officer not in his pay asked him for some help.
 This is Mr. Brand’s assessment:

George “The Penguin” Mitchell escaped to Holland in 1996 after the murder of Irish reporter Veronica Guerin.  Mitchell lived in Amsterdam and Rotterdam before moving to Morocco a couple of years ago.  He visits The Netherlands to see family and to do business (one of those businesses dealing in Indonesian antiquities).  I thought about what Charley Hill said about The Penguin’s involvement and made some inquiries in the underworld and learned that an Irish connection could very well be possible.

Mitchell, who once worked for the gang of art thief Martin Cahill, is said to know members of  the Rathkeale Rovers, a gang of Irish Travellers (gypsies) suspected of stealing rhino horns from a few dozen museums throughout Europe.  Rhino horns are valued for medicinal purposes in eastern Asia.  Thieves make millions with that but there is more to this group.

The Rathkeale Rovers were linked in 2005 to the theft of the Henry Moore sculpture stolen and melted down for bronze scrap metal.  Irish Travellers were suspected in the 2003 theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder from Drumlanrig castle in Scotland.  Although the painting was recovered in 2007, the thieves who removed the painting from the home of the Duke of Buccleuch have never been caught.  In 2005, according to rumors and a source in the FBI, Irish Travellers planned to rob the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.  I have been told that George Mitchell was connected to Martin Cahill’s associate Martin Foley who is suspected of robbing the Russborough House in 2001 and 2002.

The Rathkeal Rovers were almost certainly at the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam on August 26, 2011 when three rhino horns were stolen.  If you look at this image of the Kunsthal, you can see a building to the left – about five to ten meters away from the art gallery.  This is the Natural History Museum.  If you look back from there, you can see right through the big glass windows of the Kunsthal and see the art displayed.  What I suspect and it’s backed up by a few rumors, the thieves stealing the rhino horns probably figured that this was too good to be true – that they were looking into the worst protected museum in the world.  If you smash a window you are in and you can take 100-200 million euros worth of paintings.  Why steal rhino horn for less than 20,000 euros when we can kick in the glass window and get 100 million?  The rumor in the criminal world is that the Rathkeale Rovers are behind the Kunsthal Rotterdam theft.  One year after rhino horns were stolen from a museum in Rotterdam, another theft occurs at the art gallery just five to ten meters away.  Nobody has brought these two events together even though the Irish Travellers and the Rathkeale Rovers have been linked to art thefts and they are well connected to the old Cahill group known as the world’s best art thieves.  They all know each other.  After the IRA murdered Cahill, part of his gang thought they should go to the Netherlands and Amsterdam is the best place to go if you still want to deal in drugs.  The best art thieves and Irish Travellers live in the Netherlands.  It was even more difficult to break into Natural History Museum than the Kunsthall – you can send in a girl of 10 to steal art from there.  I cannot confirm the rumor that it was an Irish job but I can logically connect the events –- there is only one group right now robbing museums.

Here's the link to an article by Jolande van der Graaf and Robbert Blokland published today in De Telegraf on the Kunsthal Rotterdam theft which we'll discuss in the next post. 

October 18, 2012

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Heist: Conferring with Charley Hill, former Scotland Yard art detective and undercover agent

By Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Charley Hill, former Scotland Yard art detective (who helped to recover "The Scream") and private investigator, shared his expertise and opinion with the ARCA Blog on the Rotterdam art heist at the Kunsthal art gallery on October 16, 2012.

ARCA Blog: The space at the 20-year-old Kunsthal Rotterdam shows temporary exhibitions and has no permanent collection. Rotterdam Police have said that the Kunsthal had a very good technological security system but no on-site guards. Did this make the Triton Foundation's collection vulnerable to theft? After all, the exhibit featured paintings by artists known to fetch high prices at highly publicized auctions.
Mr. Hill: If a museum is to show works of great art, it cannot be Fort Knox, nor a high security prison. So whatever the security at a museum, and the state of its alarm system, it will be vulnerable to attack. The best system is a combination of locks, bolts, strengthened glass, CCTV (seeing someone walking around with a balaclava on should be a clue that all is not well, if anyone is watching the monitor) and alarms with good human resources managing them 24 hours a day. That is expensive, and most museums cannot afford that combination, but they should always aspire to it and try to achieve it as best they can, particularly when they have other people's art treasures on loan for an exhibition.
ARCA Blog: This month in Santa Monica, California, a private collector, Jeffrey Gundlach, recovered stolen art valued around $2 million after offering a reward. However, other paintings from art heists -- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1972, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, and the Van Gogh Museum in 2002 have never been recovered. What are the chances of seeing these seven stolen works taken from the Triton Foundation while on display at the Kunsthal?
Mr. Hill: These stolen works of art are likely to turn up again because they were stolen in an intelligent way, probably little damaged. But overall, stealing masterpieces is the most stupid thing a thief or thieves can do. They are not readily realisable as cash assets. They are unsaleable on the open market. The values attributed to them, and I read in the Independent this morning here in London that a figure for all of the stolen pictures was put at £250 million. What nonsense.
I also read that they were for some secret collector and his secret collection. More stuff and nonsense. In my experience the only Captain Nemo or Dr. No character I have ever met who collected stolen works of art is George Ortiz of Geneva. He used to show anyone his superb collection of looted antiquities, and every one of his friends and enemies knows what he has got. His main friends are the city fathers of Geneva who are set to inherit it all, and his enemies begin with Lord Renfrew, the famous Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge University. Jules Verne and Ian Fleming (actually, Cubby Broccoli) invented all of that secret collector nonsense. These pictures will turn up in drugs raids and other searches over time, unless the police in Rotterdam get a good tip off soon and hit the place where they are stashed now.
ARCA Blog: The Santa Monica Police and Pasadena police in California were able to recover the stolen paintings from the Jeffrey Gundlach collection at a car stereo business and at a nearby residence. One of the paintings was recovered in Glendale during what appeared to be a sale preview. In the Gundlach robbery, the thieves also stole a Porsche and watches. This robbery is more focused on the art.
Mr. Hill: My view is that this theft was particularly well organised, done quickly and in the almost certain knowledge that the thieves and what they stole would be long gone by the time the police arrived. Also, the thieves were apparently not opportunists such as the two with a ladder at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam some years ago who smashed a window and took the two pictures nearest the broken glass, nor were they Balkan bandits with machine pistols like the ones who hit the Munch Museum in 2004, or the Buhrle Collection in Zurich a few years ago.
The closest pattern I know is of Irish Traveller raids on art in the 1980s through 2010. The pattern in Rotterdam the night before last was closer to that. See the art crimes of The General as he called himself, Martin Cahill of Dublin. Interestingly, one of Cahill's gang, George Mitchell, known as The Penguin, lives close to Rotterdam where he works in commodities with his Colombian, Russian, Dutch, Brit, Irish and other friends. I wonder if he has a part to play in this? He could do something about getting those pictures back, I'm sure, if any good Dutch police officer not in his pay asked him for some help.
Readers may read about Charley Hill's undercover work to recovery Edvard Munch's Scream stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 in Edward Dolnick's book The Rescue Artist. The exploits of Dublin criminal Martin Cahill are told in Mathew Hart's book The Irish Game.

We emailed a few questions to Mr. Hill that he thought we should address to our readers in the hopes of generating a thoughtful discussion:
What about the Serbian gangs who had been involved in the theft of the two Turners from the Tate Gallery which had been on loan to Frankfurt (as documented in Sandy Nairne's book Art Theft and The Case of the Stolen Turners)? Do you think the paintings, if taken by someone like that Irish gangs, would be shipped into Britain? If you were to steal these paintings from Rotterdam, what country would you ship them to?

October 16, 2012

Experts opine professional thieves may have stolen seven paintings from Rottendam gallery for ransom or to be sold later on the black market for a fraction of their worth

Monet's "Charing Cross Bridge, London" 1901/AP
On October 7, Kunsthal Rotterdam, a showcase of temporary exhibitions, opened "Avante Garde" to celebrate the art gallery's 20 anniversary and to display for the first time in public 150 works collected by Willem and Marijke Cordia-Van der Laan.  Just nine days later, the Kunsthal's alarm system went off shortly after 3 a.m., alerting the exhibition hall's private security detail.  Security personnel arriving by car noticed that seven paintings were missing and informed the Dutch police who began their investigation -- sending in a forensics team to fingerprint the area and collect any physical evidence, interviewing potential witnesses in the area, and reviewing security camera footage.

Monet's "Waterloo Bridge, London" 1901/AP
Within hours, Dutch police and museum officials released the names of the stolen artwork: Pablo Picasso's "Tete d'Arlequin"/"Harlequin Head" (1971); Claude Monet's "Waterloo Bridge, London" (1901) and "Charing Cross Bridge, London" (1901); Henri Matisse's 'La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune'/"Reading Girl in White and Yellow" (1919); Paul Gauguin's 'Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte, dite la Fiancée'/"Girl in Front of Open Window"/(1898); Meyer de Haan's 'Autoportrait'/"Self-Portrait"/ (circa 1890); and Lucian Freud's "Woman with Eyes Closed" (2002). (The images of the paintings here were provided by the Rottendam police to the Associated Press and made available through Spiegel Online).

Gauguin's "Girl in Front of Open Window" 1898
According to security consultant Ton Cremers, the high visibility of the art through the art gallery windows was more of a vulnerability than the lack of night time security guards who could have been taken hostage.  Noah Charney, founder of ARCA, writes that the paintings were likely stolen for ransom.  Chris Marinello of the Art Loss Registry also speculates that the paintings would be ransomed or sold for a fraction of their worth.  Retired Scotland Yard art detective and private investigator Charley Hill believes that the thieves were professionals.

The Kunsthal gallery, normally closed on Mondays, remained closed on Tuesday for the police investigation but planned to reopen on Wednesday.

Picasso's "Harlequin Head" 1971
Spiegel Online offers a photo gallery of the crime scene and the stolen artworks.

Matisse's 1919 "Reading Girl in White and Yellow"
Meyer de Haan's "Self-Portrait" c. 1890


August 20, 2011

Anthony Amore, co-Author of "Stealing Rembrandts", on interviewing art thieves and whether or not James "Whitey" Bulger knows the whereabouts of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in 1990

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief

Anthony Amore, head of security of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, is one the Board of Trustees of the Association for Research into Crimes against Art and taught a course in Museum Security for the ARCA program in International Art Crime Studies in 2009. He co-authored "Stealing Rembrandts" with Tom Mashberg, an award-winning investigative reporter and the former Sunday Editor for the Boston Herald.

Thirteen works of art, including three Rembrandts, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990. Both Amore and Mashberg spent years studying all aspects of the world's largest unsolved art theft.

Anthony writes in his foreword to the book:
 "One of the more intriguing characteristics of the Gardner heist is that two of the stolen paintings, "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee" (1633) and "A Lady and Gentleman in Black" (1633), both by Rembrandt, were cut from their frames."
Amore puts forth the question as to why the two thieves, who spent a leisurely 81 minutes in the museum, risked damaging the paintings by slicing the two Rembrandt canvases from their stretchers:
"Were they so unschooled as to imagine they could manhandle the canvases without wreaking destruction on the paintings? That alone is a key insight into the culprits. Thieves schooled in art would have done no such thing. Moreover, the robbers anticipated that they were going to cut some paintings from their frames. Why else would they have brought along an instrument that was sharp and sturdy enough to slice through stiff, varnished paint and linen canvas? Two other major art thefts in Massachusetts (both involving Rembrandts, as the following chapters will show) were pulled off more than 15 years before the Gardner crime without anyone resorting to cutting canvases. Why do so now? Had these thieves learned their lessons in theft outside Massachusetts? Was this their first art crime?"
Anthony Amore's obsession with studying the ISGM theft and finding the paintings led him and co-author Mashberg to write about comparable thefts in this 245-page manuscript just perfect for summer reading in the hammock, on the beach, or in an airport. The language is accessible and the narrative strong, even when describing when and why Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) painted the artworks that are the subject of these thefts. The authors answer the question as to why anyone would care that these paintings have been stolen, remain missing, or how they were recovered.

ARCA Blog: The book tells of a heist at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts in 1972, orchestrated by Florian "Al" Monday, a man now in his seventies who was involved in art theft more than four decades ago.  Anthony, how did you contact Florian "Al" Monday and what was your experience interviewing him? Does he speculate about the whereabouts of the ISGM paintings?
Anthony Amore: I reached out to Al years ago to have a conversation about art theft. He still lives in Massachusetts and we know many of the same people so it was an interesting conversation. Al has been on the hunt for the stolen Gardner art for many years and can speak more knowledgably about the crime figures who do not have the art than he can about who does. Despite his criminal history and proclivity towards taking paintings that don’t belong to him, we’re friends and I quite enjoy talking to him.
ARCA Blog: Myles J. Connor Jr., an art thief, has authored a book about his adventures, including the theft of a Rembrandt painting on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. What characteristics do you think Connor and Monday share as art thieves?
Anthony Amore: Myles and Al share a unique characteristic that sets them apart from virtually all other art thieves, and that is that both of them appreciate fine art and are knowledgeable on the subject. While this sounds admirable, in many respects it makes their crimes all the more worse, since they have a better understanding of the cost to society than a common criminal. And make no mistake: though they art aficionados, they stole art strictly for profit, not to enjoy it.
ARCA Blog: Carl Earnest Horsley agreed to speak with you about a 1973 theft in Cincinnati. He was under surveillance when he collected the ransom and left two stolen art works. Anthony, why do you think he finally agreed to speak about his role in the theft? What do you think he had in common with Monday and Connor?
Anthony Amore: I believe that Carl saw an opportunity to get his story out but also to let the world know that he has turned his life around and is now a legitimate businessman. I see Carl as an exception to the rule that people never change. He seems to have made an earnest attempt to go straight.
ARCA Blog: After looking at all these thefts, do you feel any closer to creating a profile of the thieves who robbed the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990?
Amore: Absolutely. I’ve felt that I have a clear picture of the sort of criminal who pulled off the Gardner heist.
ARCA Blog: Recently you were interviewed by John Wilson for BBC's "Front Row." On his blog, he speculates about the arrest of James "Whitey" Bulger and whether or not Boston's former crime boss has knowledge of the whereabouts of the paintings. Do you share Charley Hill's opinion (according to John Wilson) that the paintings have been in Ireland with some faction of the IRA?
Anthony Amore: I have the utmost respect for Charley Hill. His career is amazing, and, aside from being a wonderful guy, he is among the greatest art recovery agents in history. However (and Charley knows I feel this way), I do not share his belief regarding the IRA. I share the opinion of the Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly that Bulger was not involved in the theft and has no information about it to share. We’re fortunate at the Gardner to have AUSA Kelly as the lead prosecutor for our case, as he is also the lead prosecutor in the Bulger case. He has put away all of Bulger’s cohorts, all of whom admitted to dozens of murders and other heinous crimes and have described all of Bulger’s exploits for juries and book readers alike. One would have to suspend an enormous amount of disbelief to think they wouldn’t admit to even the slightest knowledge about the Gardner theft. Add that to the fact that there’s not even the slightest bit of evidence pointing to an Irish connection, and I put that possibility very low on the list of likelihoods. Of course, all that being said, the paintings are still missing, so we cannot rule anything out. And if a person from Ireland shows up at our door with the art this afternoon, I’ll be very glad to admit that I was wrong!