Nation & World

Accused mobster linked to Isabella Stewart Gardner art heist faces sentencing

Largest art heist in U.S. history involved $500 million in paintings

FILE PHOTO: United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz speaks during a news conference at the FBI’s Boston Field Office held to appeal to the public for help in returning artwork stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., March 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz speaks during a news conference at the FBI’s Boston Field Office held to appeal to the public for help in returning artwork stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., March 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi/File Photo

An octogenarian alleged mobster who police believe may be able to solve the largest art heist in U.S. history is expected in court in Connecticut on Tuesday where he is due to be sentenced for illegally selling guns to a convicted murderer.

Robert Gentile admitted last year to illegally selling a loaded firearm to a convicted killer, the result of what his lawyer calls a Federal Bureau of Investigation sting operation aimed at pressuring him into providing details on paintings stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in March 1990.

Gentile, 81, has repeatedly denied knowing the whereabouts of any of the art, valued at an estimated $500 million, taken in one of the longest unsolved high-profile crimes in Boston. He is due to appear in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Connecticut.

Nicknamed “Bobby the Cook” and “Bobby the Chef,” Gentile appeared in court in September and claimed to have no memory of having entered a plea in the case or of any of the events involved, prompting a judge to order a psychiatric evaluation before he was sentenced. U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny earlier ordered the sentencing to go forward after Gentile was found competent.

Gentile could be sentenced to up to six years in prison, though he has already spent almost half that much time in custody since his April 2015 arrest.

The Gardner heist was carried out by two men dressed in police uniforms who apparently overpowered a night security guard who had buzzed them in.

None of the 13 stolen artworks, which include Rembrandt’s “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and Vermeer’s “The Concert,” has been recovered.

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At a 2015 hearing, prosecutors said Gentile was secretly recorded telling an undercover FBI agent that he had access to at least two of the paintings and could sell them for $500,000 each.

A 2012 search by the FBI of Gentile’s home turned up a handwritten list of the stolen art, its estimated value and police uniforms, according to court documents.

The museum is continuing to offer a $10 million reward for information leading to recovery of the stolen art.

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