If you want a book that’s a little bit The Departed and a little bit art critic, Master Thieves: The Boston Gangers Who Pulled Off the Worlds Greatest Art Heist by Stephen Kurkjian is a mystery worth unraveling. In 1981, Boston’s criminal underground and the classic art scene collided when thief Louis Royce gave career gangster Ralph Rosetti information that would lead into the break in and theft of priceless artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. As a child, Royce had spent time walking through the museum and realized how easy it would be to break into it. After several years of planning, the museum was hit and artwork worth up to 500$ million were taken from the walls. This included Rembrant’s ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.’ These artworks were never found.
Master Thieves: The Boston Gangers Who Pulled Off the Worlds Greatest Art Heist is such a convoluted look at the theft that the entire first portion of the book is an explanation of those involved. This includes the FBI agents who investigated and those who may have just passed on information to the thieves. I found myself immersed into the world of the Boston underworld and the underground world of stolen art sales. It was a bit overwhelming in parts and the book is certainly not something you can fly through.
Master Thieves: The Boston Gangers Who Pulled Off the Worlds Greatest Art Heist is available March 10, 2015 from Perseus Books.