Review: Stephen Kurkjian’s ‘Master Thieves’

April 10, 2015 11:45 AM

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Twenty-five years ago, as Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day revelries eased into the wee hours of March 18, 1990, two men impersonating police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and made off with 13 works of art valued at up to $500 million. It is the most expensive art heist in U.S. history and is currently the second-longest unsolved case on the FBI’s “Top Ten Art Crimes” list. That the Gardner theft is still an open case is a “disgrace,” according to journalist Stephen Kurkjian, who draws on fresh evidence in Master Thieves to reveal his own chief suspect, tell the full story of the theft and perhaps hasten the missing works’ return.

Kurkjian clearly knows how to work his beat — he won three Pulitzer Prizes while at the Boston Globe. For this book, he interviewed low-level criminals long suspected of the crime, and he reached out to mob bosses for answers. And most impressive, he delivers the story of Louis Royce, who discovered...

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