Three decades after one of Boston’s most infamous unsolved robberies, a new clue may help answer some questions.
Jeweler Paul Calantropo, formerly of Boston, came forward with an account that links Bobby Donati, a longtime suspect and local robber, to one of the pieces of art stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.
In the interview, Calantropo said that Donati, whom he had known for years, showed up at his office at the Jeweler’s Building in downtown Boston about a month after the famous heist with an eagle-shaped finial that he asked the jeweler to appraise. Calantropo said he immediately recognized it as one of the stolen art pieces and told him it was “worthless.”
The meeting in 1990 was the last time Calantropo saw Donati, who was brutally killed a year late, in a case that was never solved, the Globe reported.
It took Calantropo years to come forward, he said, because he "feared for his safety." But five years ago, he did speak to the FBI, the Globe reported.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist remains unsolved, despite a $10 million reward for anyone who can help retrieve the stolen art. The theft took place in March 1990, when two men showed up at the museum late at night dressed as police officers. They restrained the security guards and left with 13 pieces from the collection, estimated to be worth more than $500 million.
The stolen art includes works from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Degas.
There have been several suspects and leads over the decades, but no artwork has ever been recovered. In September, Robert Gentile, a mobster and the last surviving person of interest in the heist, died after a stroke. Investigators had suspected that Gentile may at one time have had in his possession at least some of the stolen artwork, but Gentile always denied any connection to the robbery.
The story caught national attention, featuring in "Last Seen," a podcast from NPR and The Boston Globe, and more recently this year in Netflix's "This Is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist."
Calantropo’s account could shed new light on one of Boston’s most well-known mysteries.