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Episode 8: 'Flimflammer'
And by ADT, the number one smart home security provider, create ADT automations to lock your doors closed, the garage an arm your security system to help keep you safe. Visit ADT dot com slash podcast to learn more about how ADT can design and install your custom smart home backed by twenty four seven protection. Produced by you are and the Boston Globe. Do you think that the garden? The FBI has said they believe the tooth thieves that actually went in dead guy who he was making sure that they weren't too tight on my wrist, and he adjusted it several times, and he said, I you're going to be here for a long time. So I don't want these to be too tight. So he was real calm and real nice about it. And he also several times said sorry to do this. A woman of considerable means division. And with a passion for old masters begins collecting them Rembrandt Rubens Raphael, her collection goes, so vast. She builds an Italian Renaissance style palace in which to showcase it. And when she dies she leaves it all to us her art loving airs. But her small jewel of museum lacks funds. It security is weak. And in time it attracts the scheming of thieves these details could only belong to one museum. The Isabela Stewart Gardner in Boston. But what if we told you that these facts are also written into the DNA of another museum? One that is about two hundred miles away in glens falls, New York, the Hyde collection. Did you have guards guards? We just had a volunteer. Ladies who when we were opened meandering around usually Chit chatting with themselves. Fred Fisher was director of the hide for a dozen years starting in nineteen seventy eight when the museum was in its fifteenth year. It was the creation of the heiress of a paper fortune who built her talion palace. Overlooking the family mail in nineteen twelve Charlotte. Prime met in fell in love with her future. Husband Lewis hide in Boston at the turn of the twentieth century the pair loved art and Fenway court as his ability to our garden was still calling her museum had left an impression in glens falls. The hides built their more modest version old masters sixteenth century tapestries center, courtyard and all. When Fred Fisher was director, the paper mill in the hides, shadow still belched sulfur. There were other things that stunk to the endowment starved hide meant that Fisher's job. As director entailed, wearing many, hats, a rubber gloves, depending I was out sometimes working in the yard, washing windows, a variety of things just to keep this place clean or cleaner. It was a labor of love it truly was imagine. Then what Fisher must have thought when he heard that a science of one of America's richest families of Vanderbilt was in town. Begin hearing stories about this guy driving a Bentley and town probably in the summer of eighty once in a while guide would come in one of my volunteers. I just saw that Vanderbilt. Everybody's talking about this Vanderbilt guy. We saw him the other day at lunch, and he's such handsome. I hear he's got a lot of money. Being a director of a very poor museum when when you hear money, and you hear Vanderbilt you think, well, maybe there's hope here maybe or maybe Paul sterling Vanderbilt as he'd written in the museums visitor. Log wasn't who he said he was his fingerprints would be among the first to be sent to FBI headquarters in the wake of the Gardner museum robbery. Could Vanderbilt real identity hold the key to solving that heist? From WVU are Boston and the Boston Globe. This is last seen. I'm Kelly horn. And I'm Jack wrote Alito. This is episode eight flimflam. Win. Paul sterling Vanderbilt, I signed the guestbook at the height collection in April nineteen eighty he gave an address Katie hill house. That's the spectacular. Saratoga springs. Mansion of Vanderbilt widow just twenty three minutes down the I eighty seven highway from glens falls. If Saratoga springs is the bell of the ball. Glens falls is arguably her planer sister who doesn't get asked to dance, Katie hill. House was the Saratoga home of Mary Lou Whitney who has the social butterfly of Saratoga. So I thought wow. But Vanderbilt wasn't staying at Katie hill in Saratoga springs. He was staying at the queensbury hotel in downtown glens falls where he paid his bills in cash tipped big and aroused suspicion, even though he dressed well spoke. Well, he's good looking guy the so-called, Mr. Vanderbilt was just maybe a little bit too. I think it might have been just giving stuff away a little bit too much, but very very suave character at the time, the queensbury hotel was a grand if faded lady a fireside perch beneath a literary themed painting in the lobby seems to have appealed to Vanderbilt who boasted of not only a blue blooded pedigree. But a literary one two he reportedly spent many hours they're writing or telling people that's what he was doing because he sold himself to all of us as a as they freelance writer for the New York Times and various prestigious publications. You'd have to have family money to a rich freelance writer Vanderbilt looked in spoke and dressed like a Kennedy people said he sent armfuls of roses every week to a pretty local girl who'd become his fiancee, he had a Bentley and a chauffeur name Giles even in fancy territory springs. These details might have turned heads in humble glens falls. They caused a minor sensation on Halloween day in nineteen eighty six months after he first came to town Vanderbilt called on Fred Fisher at the museum to the courtyard and for about an hour or so he went on and on about how he's so interested in art, and he was writing about art, and he's particularly interested in art debt. And that was the beginning a little bit of concern because he went on and on about various thefts that he'd heard about it. You know, it was clearly movie kind of stuff catwalk while. Being on the ceiling and jumping into skylights. And you know, and he read about these things, and he started to write an article, and it was basically trying to draw of me about what's the security the museum. So I immediately that was going to the first red flag and not the last in subsequent meetings throughout the fall. Vanderbilt asked Fisher about renting the hides smaller mansion next door as a writing retreat. It's windows happened to look directly into the museum in mid-november, a friend of fissures in the city planning office told him that Vanderbilt had been in asking to see the museums floor plans. Vanderbilt had implied that he was there on official business to review the hide structural details. He'd asked to take the blueprints with him. But was refused and Fischer says Vanderbilt peppered him with questions about the museum security windows, secure. And are you do you have guards? And is there a security company that overseas to Kurti? Just more than enough to make me think. Oh my gosh. What is this guy about Fisher was torn between flickering hope that Vanderbilt really was good for much-needed windfall from the museum and a growing feeling that something wasn't right? It came once and said he was going to New York to see some of his family members. And he wanted to have a book of photographs of the patriots to show them because he was sure that if they saw these wonderful pictures, they wanna give us money. Well, I could only see that safe shopping list for. Fisher demerit, he told Vanderbilt that he and his young assistant intended to catalogue the collection. But progress was slow they had one beat up typewriter, and we're on a six month, wait list for a new one and IBM selectric. So you said, well, let me see what I can do and one day he showed up with three of them in the back trunk the Bentley they didn't quite look brand new. They weren't new Fisher told the museum's board. He was growing concerned about this Vanderbilt fellow and then that very weekend. A new story about of all things the IBM selectric deepened fishers, suspicions the chair of the board called me. Fred, you've got watch sixty minutes or talking about stolen, IBM, selectric sim. So long story short the following day. I had someone come up here from Albany of IBM a rep and he pulled their head labels on the to the Hyde collection on each one. When he pulled it labels off there. They were from a rental company in New York City. They weren't a gift. So that really got me. Pretty scared. Fisher began calling around trying to confirm Vanderbilt's credentials one of the calls. He made was to an actual Vanderbilt. She was very helpful. And she said, you know, first of all there were Vanderbilt, they wouldn't be driving a Bentley. And being that officious. That's just not the way we do. Really after said, I'm sorry. But you are be calling the police you ought to be doing something about this. So that's when I really knew that I had a problem. Fisher did call the police and when Paul sterling Vanderbilt next return to meet him at the museum plain clothes detectives from the states bureau of criminal investigation were they're eavesdropping. It was November twenty sixth nineteen eighty the day before thanksgiving as we were facing each other in my office. And he was he said I've got a thirty thousand dollar check for you in my briefcase. But I decided I'm not going to give you this Jack because you're just about the worst director any museum could ever have. You know, you should be ashamed of yourself at the boredom kind of an idiot. You were on and on and on. And then he said, and then I understand you're not using typewriters. And I said, oh, well, let's talk about the time a little nervous about how I was going to manage that. But after he put me down so much. I was ready to call his. And then he was very kind of fishy after that. And he kept going on about. Well, I'll take them back. If that's the way, you feel what did you say to him about the typewriter said look at fellow. We had evaluated in. They're not they're, you know, they're they're rentals. They're not you know, where to get these. And he was very red face to realize that he was kind of. Fischer says Vanderbilt was furious. He loaded his typewriters into his Bentley and left. So did the detectives they agreed that Vanderbilt was a condescending jerk but said they couldn't arrest them for it. Fisher decided to keep the glass mug. He'd served Vanderbilt coffee in just in case having fingerprints would come in handy carefully washed out a little bit of it. And then put it in a plastic bag. Save that for of Colombo. Obviously I'd seen way to movies. What came next was straight out of one. At five thirty in the morning on Christmas Eve, nineteen eighty Fred Fisher. Then the forty year old director of the Hyde collection in glens falls, New York awoke to a telephone call from police someone had tried to rob the museum Mandeville immediately came to mind, there was no that's so it was that is who it was only. Paul sterling Vanderbilt was really a twenty year old college dropout named Brian Michael mcdevitt from an upper middle class. Coastal town about twelve miles north of Boston. Brian mcdevitt, could never walk into Sirte springs, glens falls or any spot in America today and claim that he was a member of a fortune five hundred family. He would last about thirteen seconds or two beers, whichever came first but in a pre Google era. Brian mcdevitt, could and when he did this man Ronald cremony was a no void winning investigative reporter for the times union. Newspaper in Albany. New York is a clean cut kid out of the middle. Crust of Boston coming to an area has no idea where he is. Or what he's doing here? He just lands here to be near the horses and the beautiful people. And then the money that he's gonna take every opportunity to make himself a fixture and player in town. He's got the cash in the hospital. Do it mcdevitt had financed. His charade with about one hundred thousand dollars he'd stolen from some safe deposit boxes in Boston in the fall of nineteen Seventy-nine where he'd been volunteering for Senator Ted Kennedy's presidential campaign. A Boston detective had been looking for him since as far as he knew mcdevitt had just up and vanished. When he was arrested in glens falls mcdevitt explained his alias to police by saying, quote, I was doing this to avoid trouble with Massachusetts authorities regarding a particular legal fair, that's conman code for felony and now. He was facing multiple felony charges in glens falls to Ronald Kirmani was in the newsroom on Christmas Eve when the call came in about two men arrested on kidnapping and robbery charges and police are telling me that these two guys won twenty some years old and one thirty some years old kidnapped a woman, a female career driver at gunpoint and had elaborate plans to rob this museum of between thirty and fifty million dollars of classical our work, and I said, wow. Are you kidding me? This is not April Fools Christmas. Eve said no run the cups at no run. This is true. They're sitting here in a holding cell as I tell you cronies Christmas morning story about Brian mcdevitt and his planned heist on the Hyde collection was in the next day's paper. There was this unbelievable article just kind of blew my mind sitting there reading it to my wife thinking, I could be dead to my God. I had no idea. This was so sick. Serious. This was big news for a city of fifteen thousand best known for an annual hot air balloon festival and minor league. Hockey franchise mcdevitt confession to police reads, a screenplay for a Hollywood caper his tone is almost boasting. He told police, quote, I do equipment lists such as vehicles that would be needed. I reviewed the problem areas, such as whether there was a panic alarm someone could push mcdevitt had, but ether handcuffs and tape for subduing museum employees. He'd bought toolkit at Sears. He told police, quote, they were for various problems that we would run into our removing the paintings from the walls of the Hyde collection. Mcdevitt, accomplice told police they were prepared to cut some paintings from their frames they'd planned to empty the place. Their goal was to fence the stuff in southern Florida. It may have been worth fifty million dollars. They were boasting that they're take might be fifteen million dollars. They were gonna retire in style. And just jumped the gun to get out of the country fast. Of course, what happened was believe it or not this is like the the keystone cops. They got stuck in traffic and beautiful downtown glens falls the clock kept ticking on them and the Heide museum closed and the alarm was said and they're sitting in a truck with an unconscious. Fedex driver a couple of empty cardboard boxes. Duct tape pellet pistol and invitation to the county jail about that FedEx driver. She was twenty six years old and had been on the job for five years when mcdevitt accomplice handcuffed her covered her eyes and mouth with tape and knocked her out with ether in the back of her truck. Fred Fischer says mcdevitt appears to have targeted her specifically, but he was contacting. Fedex and mailing sham packages quite often only to find out who's on the routes. And at who the drivers were and really spent a lot of time a lot of effort trying to figure out how best to do this almost forty years later. The FedEx driver didn't want to talk to us. She wouldn't even come to the phone. Her husband said she had no desire to relive. What had been a terrifying? Experience in her statement to police. The FedEx driver says this about mcdevitt, quote, he said he wouldn't harm anyone. And that he isn't that kind of person. He said couldn't I tell that. By the way, he was treating me he said that if I helped him he would make it worth my while he said, he would give me twenty five thousand dollars for it. I said I didn't want the money. He said that he could put it in a Swiss account. So it would be there whenever I wanted it. He said that he was going to rob from the rich to give to the poor. She reported that mcdevitt had. I also told her that he risked ruining his family name by which of course, he meant Vanderbilt once he gave a statement to the police. She said that she recognized this voice the fee was blindfolded. But feed heard mcdevitt suppose in the Federal Express truck, and she can recognize this this. She was pretty sure it was him. The FedEx driver noticed something else. She told police, quote, the dark moustache didn't go with the blonde hair mcdevitt and his accomplice had worn fake black mustaches and early reports out of glens falls put the two would be thieves in FedEx uniforms. So did they didn't they dress up as Federal Express drivers? They did not make Devitt tried to buy uniforms wherever he did this. He was treated rather strangely. And I think he backed away thinking maybe that would maybe somebody get the idea what they were doing. But they did attempt to do it. Mcdevitt, accomplice was a divorced father who was working as an assistant manager at the queensbury hotel. He told police that he'd gone along with mcdevitt scheme out of fear. Quote, he mentioned love for my son. And it would be a shame. If anything happened to him to read the accomplices police statement is to realize that he had bought mcdevitt, cinematic, worldview wholesale he recounted that pre heist mcdevitt had given them and the operation codenames, they boned up on art theft by reading the book thinking like, a thief and post heist their plans included taking a Concorde supersonic jet to London or maybe Eric and hiding their millions with the help of financial planner in Los Angeles. The headline is the art heist that failed but not for lack of imagination Ronald cremony could not get enough of this story. He drove to mcdevitt hometown found a payphone inserted cold calling anyone who might have known mcdevitt. He went to the library. And found mcdavitt high school yearbook the insights, gleaned filled a three part profile published in the times union newspaper. The first installment came out on January fourth nineteen Eighty-one even in high school. Brian Michael mcdevitt was the consummate hustler at his best classmates recall. He was our ticket and aggressive at his worst. He was brash to the point of being obnoxious and today, he's in the Serta county jail and Lua fifty thousand dollars bail accused of plotting in elaborate robbery designed net him millions of art treasures vying mcdevitt, served two years for kidnapping and attempted robbery. He was living in Boston in nineteen ninety when the Isabella's to regarding resume was robbed a decade after his glens, falls misadventure. Fred Fischer says when he heard the news of the Gardner heist. He knew right away who did it. Brian mcdevitt immediately. Absolutely mmediately, not only. But my former staff, you know, we talked the first thing that came out of his mouth was for God's sake. Fred did you got to be mcdevitt has got to be. Why do you think that is it just it was? So clearly a similar incident, you know, timed around holiday disguised as somebody else duct tape, and you know, I did have handcuffs. I think at the Gardner the similarities were just very much there. Last seen supported by ADT, the number one smart home security provider, setup customization for your home's lights locks thermostat garage door and more. Visit ADT dot com slash podcast to learn more about how ADT can design and install your custom smart home backed by twenty four seven protection. In the summer of nineteen Eighty-nine Vermeer's the concert still hung in the Isabela Stewart Gardner museum. So did Rembrandt's only SeaScape storm on the sea of Galilee along with eleven or the works of art that would vanish before dawn on March eighteenth nineteen ninety and on July sixth that summer. Brian mcdevitt, met a young woman who had factor in his life for several years to come. Her name is Stephanie Rabinowitz. Did he tell you where he was from? New York somewhere New York. He was pretty quiet about his past. She's a photographer now. But then Rabinowitz was twenty two living in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and working in animation for film and commercials. Mcdevitt, was just a few weeks shy of his twenty ninth birthday when they were introduced to each other at a comedy club Rabinowitz, one home and wrote in her diary, he has beautiful is a mix between blue and green. He's a screenwriter for the wonder years and paramount and Columbia his name, and I color might have been true. But nothing else was fine. Mcdevitt, had dropped the Vanderbilt ruse, but was still laying claim to a literary status. He didn't have. But Rabinowitz didn't know that. So when six months into their relationship mcdevitt told her that he was headed to New York City for the writers guild awards ceremony. She believed him it was three days. Before the garden museum would be robbed Thursday, March fifteenth nineteen ninety Rabinowitz who kept a detailed diary at the time and shared it with us recalled that mcdevitt wasn't himself. When they'd spoken that day by phone. He seemed agitated nervous. And just not welcoming or lovey-dovey or inviting. She didn't hear from mcdevitt all weekend, but his tone had altogether changed by the time. He called her late in the day on Sunday March eighteenth, oh, he was happy cheery happy to be back. Happy to talk to me, you know, looking forward to getting together again much calmer than before he left much nicer and more at ease with himself. Just he was his whole demeanor was much nicer former FBI special agent Thomas McShane was also in Boston on March eighteenth nineteen ninety he'd been among the first on the scene of the robbery at the Isabel. Stewart Gardner museum was of course, taped off with the yellow evidence that we use the frames were all on the floor. Scattered in a real haphazard is way. It looks very. Disturbing. And we were just praying that they didn't ruin these paintings, by the way that what they left behind. It looked like a disaster McShane was an undercover art recovery expert for the FBI for a quarter of a century by his lights. He returned some five hundred million dollars worth of stolen and forged. Art. There was an L Greco Rubens and Rembrandt that had been on loan from the Louvre when it was stolen. And so where in your in the spectrum of all these cases, where is the isabela's to Gardner museum for you? That is top priority on my list. Mcshane says there was one suspect who was among the first to have his fingerprints sent to F B I headquarters. It's the same suspect that makes chain says he would still put his money on for having pulled off the Gardner heist. Brian Michael mcdevitt, he was interviewed by the and immediately afterwards, she took off to California. This was a con man of nature of Bernie Madoff. So you put Brian mcdevitt in that class of conman like the best you've ever seen exactly in the spring of nineteen ninety Brian mcdevitt left Boston and moved to a hilltop bungalow above Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. He joined the west coast branch of the writers guild formed a production company and touted serious credentials as a writer for television and film. I is this sort of like. You know, aristocrat whose whose famous writer, then he's none of those things. And then not only know those things he's he's a crook analogy a crook. He's a monster. Ben Pollack directs television commercials and use it videos now in mid July of nineteen ninety one when he met Brian mcdevitt at the writers guild. He was nineteen just getting started in the business and naive. He was introducing me as this great writer had this deal with paramount and doing all these wonderful things. He said, why are you? I like your attitude. Give me something send me something that you wrote. But love to read it. So I'm like this is exactly why game. They're Pollock was completely taken in by mcdevitt sophisticated and entertaining and charming and giving articulate telling fund person kind of like an older brother and big stories that you just believed, you know, that kinda got but within six months of meeting. Brian mcdevitt, Pollock would tell police. He'd grown so leery. He hired a private detective to dig into mcdevitt story. He learned that mcdevitt business partner was himself wanted by the FBI that man would be extradited to Chicago on twelve counts, including grand larceny, Pollock learned that nothing mcdevitt had told him was true. Not the big things like his writing credits and not even the small things like his claim that he owned his home in the Hollywood hills Pollock made more calls starting with the producers of a major Hollywood film that mcdevitt had claimed to have been working on. I asked him. I said I understand Brian mcdevitt was a writer on this movie. And they're like Brian. And you know, then I started to tell them what was going on. And they got fascinated by that story, and they checked out other things. So they were able to check out other parts of his resume, and then they gave me the telephone numbers to other people. And then I did that and check this one not when I called a New Yorker, I called the guardian in London where he said he had published these stories and shit. Sure. Enough the whole. Knew he was it was that simple. All you had to do is call you had to do is check it out. But it was so brazen. Nobody did. I realized that I'm now with total flimflam artist. And I have to get out of it. Pollock confronted mcdavitt say I found out all these things about you. I just want to get out of this company. That's all I want. I was my heart was pounding. My mouth was dry. I was thinking more for him. How embarrassed I would be if somebody found out that I was flimflam caught me red handed. What I was thinking. Anyway, that's when it all started. He was cool as a cucumber. He told me how it was going to go. And he told threaten me said if you tell anybody what you discovered, you know, I'm going to I'm going to do in. And then he was sort of you know, straight up to my face. I mean, he was doing this just stuff you'd read in our move it, you know, from some wacko. There's really never happens. But he's that guy who did all the things you didn't think anybody would do Nick began quietly torment. Pollock waging kind of creepy psychological warfare. He'd knock on his door in the middle of the night. And then whistle from somewhere in the darkness. When Pollock opened up, and he began calling Pollock over and over sometimes one hundred more times a day just to hang up when he answered the hangup stuff was the real real insight to this guy sitting somewhere in the dark, or whatever and calling me over and over and over and over day after day after day after week after week after week, what was going through his mind when he was doing that it was incessant it took more than six weeks. But by April of nineteen ninety Ninety-two Pollock was able to convince the police that he knew who was behind the calls a trap on Pollock's phone proved him, right? Brian was so frayed of going to jail even for ten seconds. And this is what he told me that he would do anything not to go to jail and he felt like. He was going to go to jail because he got caught doing this thing with the phone. June of nineteen Ninety-two. Brought a perfect storm of trouble for Brian mcdavitt. He faced criminal charges for harassing Ben Pollack. He was on the verge of being ousted from the writers guild exposed as a felon in a fraud. And then an article in the New York Times outed him as a prime suspect in the Gardner heist. There followed a similar article in the Los Angeles Times, and then another in the Boston Globe. And on the heels of that, sixty minutes came calling Morley safer this shows late correspondent asked mcdavitt on national television. If he robbed the garden museum. No mcdevitt said but he admitted he didn't have an alibi. There. Followed a summons to a grand jury back in Boston the walls were closing in. It was around that time that mcdevitt asked Stephanie Rabinowitz who had by then also moved to allay to be his alibi with the FBI if they ever asked her about him and the Gardner. Heist shut it down because the minute. He said, I really need you to lie to the FBI for me right there. I was like I cannot lie to the FBI. And then asking me to be his alibi. You know, I didn't put two and two together because I wasn't thinking. Then like, oh, he was at the writers guild. Brian mcdevitt might have been in New York City the weekend the Gardner museum was robbed, but it wasn't at the writers guild awards as he told her Benowitz they were held that year in April Rabinowitz last song mcdevitt on June twenty-fifth nineteen ninety two at a party for show. She worked on she wrote about it diary and recalls that meeting, and he told me that this guy had paid him. I believe in remember him saying three hundred thousand to cut out the art pieces in the museum to give it to him. And then all he would have to do is collect the money and get out of the country, and then he could live the rest of his life being taken care of. And he offered me to come with him. He actually asked me so much, please, please come with me. We could live a great life together. I'll take care of you for the rest of your life. And as great as that sound did for twenty year old who's kind of struggling, I couldn't do it. Yeah. I was a little tempted and I thought about it. But I thought no I can't do it. And I'm not gonna live off of a whole lie and just everything that had happened. So I told him I couldn't do it. He was pissed again mad of set hurt. That was the last time. I saw him. She never heard from him. Again. The Benowitz did hear from an FBI agent about a month later Rabinowitz says the agent had come to her apartment to question her about mcdevitt and the Gardner heist the agent couldn't question mcdevitt himself though, because he'd vanished again. Nat Sehgal off is a writer in north Hollywood who's written a screenplay about Brian mcdevitt. He knew him both in Boston and in Los Angeles. And he liked him. I'm a reporter. I started off as reporter. I was cynical and I've dealt with so many scumbags in the film business both exhibition and distribution that an art fiv to me is a step up two years after mcdevitt left LA. He called Sehgal off absolutely out of the blue in October of nineteen ninety four. I got a phone call from him. He said he was in Rio de Janeiro waiting for the statute of limitations to run out at that point cut got the idea that somebody was after him he said he was in Brazil because there was no extradition treaty with the United States. And the also said that he had got wind from the grand jury that there might be an indictment handed down. So he fled the country Sehgal off didn't hear from Devitt again for another eight years when he received an Email in December of two thousand two we started writing back and forth. We have voluminous correspondence. Mostly he would send me articles about art heists all over the world. And we would talk about movies, and we talk about politics, especially the difference in politics between America and Central America. Because that point he was living in Medellin Colombia. That's where mcdevitt was reportedly last seen he'd set up a phony English. Translation business. Did you ever ask him outright? If he had pulled off the Gardner heist. I didn't ask Brian directly. But I tried to call you about it. Because by this point. I was quite curious. He sent me a how to guide in a sense of how to rob a museum. He told me about other people who were involved he told me about how the FBI was after him. These didn't come off as paranoid. These came off is sensible reports putting all the pieces together, I really did believe that he did it. But he wasn't going to tell me directly in this. I'd broken the code somehow and got him to tell me Sehgal off heard from Devitt one last time may tenth two thousand. Nd four he said he was calling from Medein Columbia and Sehgal off recorded the call Bryant mcdevitt, certainly is a where are you? Well, that's why I'm calling that. What I did want to. Over the internet because. I just wanted to talk to you for a couple of minutes. I don't have a lot of time. How are you? I'm fine. I'm holding my own here. You know, how it is mcdevitt got down to business he'd been ill. It was serious. He wanted Sehgal off to know. Tomorrow. You know, I didn't want you to. Hear about it late or or anything else and. You know, I consider one of the few friends that I have left. So everybody else has pretty much abandoned me. Colluding. And. I just felt that you should know. I hate to call you like this because you know, but I realize that you know, I have really been. As prolific as I used to be the internet. Yeah. Really? Got back in January. Let me just tell you what's going on K. Please. I'm going to be living to your ripe old age. That's for sure. Asked me to come back. And they told me that that I was HIV positive. Eight eight at came. You know? Dozens of women down here. Mcdevitt, told Sehgal off he had no Monja, and that he'd been having difficulty breathing. But anyway. I'm just running. I don't want anybody to know. But I wanted you to know because you one of the few people that have been so nice to be over the last year. So I wanted to let you know, what was going on. Because I I really don't have anybody to. Mcdevitt, sounds like a man facing his own death. In June Sehgal off heard from David's sister that her brother had died seventeen days after that phone. Call may twenty seventh two thousand four Brian mcdevitt was forty three years old. Several of the people who knew Brian mcdevitt, his former girlfriend the museum director he tried to scam the aspiring screenwriter, he flimflam d-. Don't believe he's dead. Now, the just former FBI agent Thomas McShane, we could dig him up and make sure that there is a body beneath the ground because I don't believe there is what does that Sehgal off perhaps mcnuggets one true friend think I don't believe Ryan faked his death for very very simple reason. He couldn't keep a secret with me if you called me before we're going into the hospital and said he didn't expect to come out maybe that was being overly dramatic. But he's the one who got in touch with me on every single occasion. Once he left Boston. I don't believe he could keep quiet. The garden museum's director of security Anthony Moray doesn't think so either he says he's seen mcdevitt hospital bills and Colombian death certificate. He says the guy is dead. What's more Amaury says the only museum Brian mcdevitt was capable of robbing was the one in his own mind. He wanted to rob the Hyde collection after all but failed on a drive through mcdevitt hometown Amaury dismissed the Brian mcdevitt theory entirely. The other thing about him being involved that was you have to think. This guy his whole life was about self aggrandizing. He wanted the attention. Right after the statute of limitations had run out. He had every opportunity to have come forward and said he had them in. What have been? I'm the world's greatest the five pulled off the biggest heist in history, and I'm not even arrested for it. Maybe. So he is in a good position to know. But then so is this guy. He was the one that kept me I feel ninety ninety to ninety five percent certain that it was him. Remember the security guard. We spoke to in the first episode the one we were only calling by his first name Randy. He says that when he saw photos of all of the Gardner heist suspects. It was only one that jumped out at him. It was a thief who had treated him in an otherwise courteous manner. He'd readjusted his handcuffs told him he'd make it worthwhile. If he cooperated apologized for having to do this. I feel like ninety to ninety five percent. Sure that he was the guy. Next time we go from the prospect of digging up the dead to digging up the Gardner treasure. Go to our website at WBZ. You are dot org slash last seen to watch video of Kelly detailing three main reasons why people steal art end to read Steve Kirk reporters notebook about a possible Gardner, heist connection to Whitey Bulger. Boston's most infamous mobster, that's WB. You are dot org slash last seen. If you have a tip theory or thought call our tip line at six one seven nine two nine seven nine nine nine. That's six one seven nine two nine seven nine nine nine. Last seen is a production of WB you are. And the Boston Globe are consulting producer is Steven kurkin production and sound design by John Perotti Eve's Zouk off his our production. Assistant additional production by Catherine brewer, our digital team is Amy Gorell Tiffany Campbell die go food Juara. Jesse Kosta, Robin Lubbock and Elizabeth Gillis. We had help from the Boston Globes show. Murphy Brendan McCarthy and John Tamaki digital help from Heather Cyrus Jason to Devon Smith and Ryan huddle editing by Jessica Alpert. Our executive producer is iris Adler. I'm senior reporter Jack Royer Ligo. Producer reporter Kelly Horan special. Thanks to artist Sophie count, who I used the title last seen at the garden museum in nineteen ninety one. And who granted us permission to use it? And thanks also to nets. I love for the audio of buying mcnuggets phone call in for a preview of his screenplay Rembrandt has left the building follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at last seen podcast all one word. If you haven't already subscribe to hundred podcast in apple podcasts. Leave us review. It helps people find the show. Shame that he was such garbage. Because he was such a creative guy. You know, if he was just if it was just, you know, if you just wanted to live, honestly would have been very successful. But.
Aired 3 months ago 40:24
Episode 9: 'The Big Dig'
Less scene is supported by ADT, the number one smart home security provider. Create ADT automations to lock your doors closed, the garage an arm your security system to help keep you safe. Visit ADT dot com slash podcast to learn more about how ADT can design and install your custom smart home backed by twenty four seven protection. Produced by WVU are and the Boston Globe. These individuals are not always well-versed in the business of art. If they were they wouldn't have stolen what they stole. And so I guess we're Lino base of you. And maybe riceville to her tobe far lesser extent started canvassing Newseum in the Boston area and eventually Malino designed it on the garden. The George did. I knew I don't know that he could have pulled it off. Brian Michael mcdevitt. He was interviewed by the FBI and immediately afterwards, she took off to California. This was a conman of nature of their knee made off I have to tell you I've seen that painting and my brother's apartment. And he said my brother did it. My brother did it. He had that painting when Bobby Knight had gone through guy voting for some reason, he was a track to defend you'll sit I like that. And Chernow was taken. I mean, I've asked him point blank. If you want to know did Bobby Garanti have the paintings doesn't know how can you squeeze me? No, nothing. Have you seen the payment? Never did note the pains that'd be talked about the beans. One of the frustrating. Things is could someone had hidden it, and then died in and look at how many people died all within that timeframe all people who are of interest. One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen sixteen while there's. Do you think it feels as tens over there? As does over here. My god. Does it feel so ten does? I feel like it's very very quiet. I can almost not breath. Yeah. Jack, anti are in Orlando, Florida on the porch of a family. We met an hour ago. There are potted plants another couch Harley Davidson and us squeezed into the middle of it all the people. You just heard us counting our across the street on a vacant lot where Abaco has been digging a giant hole all morning. The engine is cut now. And they are standing around that whole staring down at something there crouching. Now, they're bending this is such an odd little seen all of them standing over there. Looking at the whole and all of us standing across the street. Just staring looking at them. Got the whole FBI agents in khakis and fleeces oversee the excavation, and we're here watching an estate of heightened anticipation and recording all of it because they are digging up our lead digging seem thrown dirt out of the whole. Two more shovels three more shovels in the hands of the FBI. The agents poke at the bottom of the whole they're in it up to their shoulders. Whatever is down there. This shovels aren't enough to earth it back into the digger digger going back to work. So why are we color narrating the movements of Abaco and getting all worked up over a hole in the ground because twenty eight and a half years since the greatest art heist in history without a single arrest or recovery in the Isabela Stewart Gardner museum robbery. The are could be anywhere. Even in a hole in Orlando. From WB. You are in the Boston Globe. This is last seen. I'm Jack rutta Ligo. And I'm Kelly Horan. This is episode nine the big dig. They pursuing something right now. They are seeing something. Our colleague from the Boston Globe. Steve Kirk jn began developing the lead that led us to Orlando Florida in two thousand sixteen Steve is the consummate skeptic all those yarns spun by all those criminals about what they might or might not know about the Gardner art, Steve doesn't buy any of it. But this lead this lead he likes and is he stands across the street from a twenty three ton Baco, that's delicately peeling away layers of earth. Steve like is lead a lot. This now vacant lot was once a rented warm weather getaway for a Boston gangster who tops the list of Gardner suspects. We've told you about him before his name is Bobby Durante. He's the one who had that hiding spot in his house in Maine and unav- diagram of Gardner heist suspects. Bobby granny would be in the middle before he died. He was mixed up in one way or another with so many of the men named in connection to either robbing the museum or trafficking the art in may two thousand sixteen Steve Kirk got a call from a retired mobster who had been close with guarantee the caller's name Alonso Esposito didn't ring a bell. But then he told Steve that was just the name. He took when he entered witness protection show. He should. No, no, no. My name is Bobby Luigi, and I was really shocked and very excited because I felt he was very. Important person. I can hear you. Great. Can you hear me? For a guy whose life depended on adopting a new identity and backstory, Bobby louisi- doesn't seem to recall his gangster past with regret relish. Seems better word like Tony soprano. I had all the. I had the money that caused the nice clothes and in my mode. I was a stock. And there was no about about that, you know, I had a little charisma flash money around Kiev everybody. And it was a nice way a lifetime. Lease nice way of life came at a cost people close to him murdered his father and half, brother. He lost years of his life in prison for trafficking cocaine, but he emerged from witness protection a few years ago dangling Atip about the stolen Gardner art in the late nineteen ninety s Louisa in Bobby guarantee reselling cocaine in Boston they shared a safe house in a suburb and one night as the two were watching TV a story came on about the Gardner heist. Work. And he says, I know the odds buried he said it's in Florida onto a concrete floor. He didn't say where Florida. He just said it was buried under a concrete slab in Florida. This is what I was told directly from his mouth and based on how well you knew Bobby. Did you feel like he was just you know, posing and trying to show off or did you really feel like, wow, he must know something. No, I I would believe him on percent. You know, he's at the from our that's what he was. You know? So I I really do believe what he told me when Steve cartoon learned this in two thousand sixteen he wondered what am I supposed to do with this passing? Mention almost twenty years earlier between two mobsters one dead. The other known to embellish where do you even start with a tip like that? Well, I had already done my due diligence on guarantee, and I pulled out my my biography file on him. Steve new granny had lived in Boston and Maine but buried in his paperwork on him. He found a DA report with an address he'd never previously noticed in. There was one place in Florida. So I should not Eureka yet. But I think that's the place. We ought to start looking in a piece he co wrote with Shelley Murphy for the Boston Globe in two thousand sixteen. Steve Alba published the Orlando lots of dress if news of its existence had peaked the FBI's interest. We don't know we do know that the F B I never contacted the owner of that land at the time something about that Lott. Still bugged Steve in August of two thousand seventeen Steve went to Florida to see it for himself. The house had been torn down. Decade earlier all that remained was a little under an acre of cleared land that slope down to a sparkling lake and there were houses across the street and people coming and going in the houses show, which was good. Steve started knocking on doors. Okay. I am. Here was rocked Hanya, and we're on his front porch on a beautiful sunny day rookie card to heinous front porch looked out over the empty lot which had been vacant since he'd lived there. But he knew a guy who might remember the house where Guerande once vacationed. Louis. What's up a neighbor named Luigi? Ferrari, not much not much. Listen. I'm calling you because there is somebody here. He saw the reporter. Can you hear me Steve Kirk John's Steve? Great to hear from you, Steve explained a little bit about what he wanted you know, that empty lot. Maybe there's five hundred million dollars worth of art buried there that kind of thing. The next day. Ferrari walked Steve right onto the empty lot. Let's take a walk down shore. The house was how far down was this a driveway that we're on? They're really never wasn't driveway. It was actually just Luigi Ferrari turned out to be an unofficial neighborhood historian. He remembered the house, it was sleek modern maybe a little Godley. There used to be a Tiki bar. It was a big size big Tiki bar. I mean back in the as it had a TV and all kinds of amenities wasn't. Yeah. They had the pool was gorgeous. It had tabletops which were mosaic that the water would actually come up, the the base of this and just percolate overtop of the mosaic keeping everything looking beautiful and white and everything this is something that you didn't see back, then, you know, very nice like something a gangster might like the back of the house facing the lake was all glass the lawn rolled down to a white sand beach. Ferrari didn't remember granny who rented the house in the early nineties in two thousand sixteen Steve track down to contractors who are in a position. To know what was below ground on the lot one had torn down the house in two thousand seven the other had broken out that beautiful swimming pool. Neither had found a Rembrandt or anything even approximating a hiding space underground for Steve it was starting to feel like a dead, and I can tell you this. I it hasn't been dug up here until Ferrari noticed something curious. Phone lines. This is the original phone lines are here. Still all going under the ground. If the phone lines were there, maybe the contractors who tore down the house left something else behind Steve thought could the Gardner Rb down there buried in Orlando, Florida. Maybe there was just one way to find out those no way I'm gonna be able to find anything unless I dig up the lot. And it's a big lot. Not only that Steve had yet to find the owner of that lot show. The second thing I did the next day is I drove into his surreptitiously into his gated community the owner, and I left a note in his mailbox I found his mailbox and I banged into joy. He doesn't hear me. He's not coming out. So I says this is going to ruin it Justice. Steve was willing to let it all go. The landowner reached out to him. Steve revealed why he was interested in his lot. And then through an attorney Steve got the. Go ahead. Find out what's down there. So this piece of equipment is what that's being used. This is the ground penetrating radar in December of two thousand seventeen WB. You are in the Boston Globe hired and engineering firm to scan the empty lot for evidence that something worth digging up might be beneath the surface. This is the lead. Geologist Brad Duckie who did not know that he was looking for buried treasure. He pushed looked like a lawnmower over the ground where the house once stood before real part? Houses the intent of its transmitting receiving intendant in this is the the computer part of it. Deftly used to different technologies radio and electromagnetic waves to determine whether there was something not naturally occurring below the ground surface. If both types of waves identified in anomaly in the same spot up gay explained the Matt spot warranted further investigation in in late December, we get the report and Erica, they do. She something four to six feet below the surface that they said they could not explain there was something down there. Deftly said he knew exactly where it was below where the back right corner of the house had been it was rectangle like a box. We have a target. Let's see what that target is. Do you mean? Similar survey work or excavation? Excavation like test pit digging it up. There was just one problem. This lead was about just any anomaly buried underground. It was about the Gardner art, which made this Orlando lot potentially a crime scene. And that meant we could not do this dig not on our own the FBI needed to know about it. So did the museum we didn't want to risk damaging some of the world's most valuable stolen. Art. So we did what we thought we were supposed to do with the information. We now had and that's when things got really complicated. Last seen supported by ADT, the number one smart home security provider setup custom automations for your home's lights locks thermostat garage door and more. Visit ADT dot com slash podcast to learn more about how ADT can design and install your custom smart home backed by twenty four seven protection. Steve Kirk James reporting on the lot in Orlando was playing out with a very loud clock ticking in the background in may of two thousand seventeen the Gardner museum announced it was doubling its reward for the return of the missing art from five to ten million dollars. That reward would expire they said at midnight, December thirty first the guy who owned the Orlando lot became motivated to find out what was under it. So with the knowledge that the Geological Survey detected a rectangular shape beneath the surface, a rectangle the perfect size to hold a five by four foot Rembrandt and with the landowner eager to register his claim before the reward reverted to Amir five million dollars. Kelly went to the Gardner museum to see head of security Anthony Maure it was December twenty eighth two thousand seventeen with just three days to go until the museums doubled. Reward was set to expire a more. I had been barraged with tips from all over the world. And here I was with one more. Okay. So my team might have a lead that we would we feel at this point that we'd like to share it with you that we feel compelled to share it with you Amaury headlong suspected that Bobby guarantee had once possessed the art. So I figured that. He would have either already run this Lee down. So he could dismiss it where it would peak is interest. If our lead was good I wanted the FBI to be able to do their job. And I wanted us to be able to do hours, but knowing that Amaury was obliged to take our tip straight to the FBI and fearing that they would shut us out. I was careful so I began cautiously I said we have a source. We can't say who he owns some land. We can't say where the fear that. I have as a journalist who's been covering this. Is that I have no knowledge of how the FBI works because they have refused as down with us. And what I don't want to have happen is to say give you an address and have our access to this site. Cut off. I would say that the museum. The paintings are. Are exponentially more important than a podcast? Okay. That hurts. But I understand. Of course, it's of course, it's true are can't speak for the fan will do what they'll say. I just know that they're committed to a recovery. Just like. But I can't say, oh, yeah. Well, the the media involved. I mean, that's not my history. Within tells me that whatever the decision is is going to be the one that I think is the way to go. It was tense and after I left in Moore's office things got even more tense than landowner got jumpy about that expiring award his lawyer who had been in frequent contact with us went around us in reached out to a Amaury to register the claim before the new year, a more I deemed the tip credible and he shared it with a Boston FBI. And that's when we ran headlong into a wall of silence. Amore I stopped communicating the Orlando landowner and his lawyer stopped returning our phone calls and emails and texts we'd been shut out exactly as I feared. But all that silence spoke volumes. We sensed that. The dig was imminent, and we presumed that the FBI didn't want us to know that when communications blacked out we guest in the early hours of Boston snowstorm, we flew to Orlando and on the morning of January thirty first two thousand eighteen we hopped into our rental car and drove straight to the lot. Take care. All right. I'm gonna keep my mic low peop-, Mike low. So we've got we've got a huge backhoe. There's a big backhoe on the street. We'd guest, right? The gate to the lot was locked FBI agents were present it was happening. Now, we told you that we staked out on a neighbor's porch. But we had to get their first preferably without the FBI spotting us. K. We go. We parked well out of sight, we shoved our Mike's into our bags and we walked right past the dig site and into row CARA. Heinous house of otographer from the Boston Globe. Jon Blum, Ocoee was slung low in an SUV with tinted windows taking photographs out the back inside we peered through drawn curtains trying to make sense of the movement across the street. The glare from this lake is making it really hard to to see these Benach yours, but someone's someone's padded out. The dig area he's marking the grass. Right now, he's walking the perimeter. Does look to be about fifteen feet across. Steve Jackie ni-. We're now in the house with row K Cartagena. You can open the a free at eight or whatever you want and his mother was there too and his daughter and grandkids and cats to Berman pinchers and very tatty bird. Independent. Our into our stakeout around nine thirty in the morning. Oh, they're digging. Orange Dosen the diggers on the move is in motion this spot. They are. Yes. They are moving a lot of earth right now. We overheard. Steve say himself. I can't believe this is happening. This is culminating of eight months of good work on that lot by myself. Just wondering what's below the surface? In look the federal government is is agreeing that there is a possibility that there is. Recovery that could be getting too. We slipped onto the porch. We could see the whole lot the digger the agents the Globes photographer was now on cartagena's roof perched they're shooting the action the telephoto lens stopped the digger. They're going in. Now a shovels. Throughout the morning. A pattern emerged the digger. Doug, then stopped. Everyone has gathered around the whole, and and it looks like this crowd has doubled. People stared into the hole, then the digger started up again somebody's climbing back into the digger digger is going back to work. They've got a eight foot tall pile of dirt. And they're just adding more soil to. Remember, our geologist the one who identified the rectangle or object below the surface? Well, now, we could see him overseeing the dig he was in the backhoe, clearly he was no longer our geologist. He was the is. He was standing next to the whole drawing a big box with his fingers over his head. Our new resident expert row K Cartagena who was hours late for work at this point was huddled on the porch with us guessing at what they were seeing down there. Is defined. And in these tents anxious moments. We noticed that Steve had left the porch and was standing in plain sight on the sidewalk Steve's getting jittery. I can't. Climb the any moment. The man who owned this lead who'd done all the reporting that put the FBI on this lot who had spent two years turning tip from gangster into a credible lead in the Gardner mystery. Was restless Steve is losing it. Yeah. All of us are being discreet somewhat on the porch. We think John the Tigers up on the roof. Steve curtain is standing on the sidewalk in broad daylight. Looking back at us every once in a while saying, very they've ounce. He can't keep it together. I like it. I know he's he's almost ending in the street now. And now he's good as iphone iphone out over his head. Can you come over here come over here? So we can talk to you. Well, then I'll go stand where you are. The something. There was something that kill. Steve looked the way we felt the Gardner case. Does that to you? You get invested obsessed. Even we abandoned the porch enjoined Steve on the sidewalk. It wasn't like they are going to stop digging. Just because three reporters from Boston were there. They see something they see something. What did you see something there? Gesturing look how he's digging. He's he's very ginger what he's doing. He's like tapping the ground. FBI agents conferring. They scraped at the bottom of the hole with rakes. You lose a person in that whole. The digger started up again, we were still on the outside still far from seeing what the people around the whole were seeing. It was practically killing us. Less scene is supported by Samuel Adams. Here's founder Jim cook all of us who Sam Adams, really happy to be sponsoring a great podcast like this podcast there about great storytelling. What goes better with great storytelling than drinking? A great beer is ability. Stewart Gardner was wonderful colorful character who was an iconic lashed. She drank beer a Red Sox fan. I would love it. If some day, you know, people think about Sam Adams Boston lager in the same way. Boston beer company, Boston mass saver responsibly. What happens when you listen into more than one hundred forty thousand different communities made up of three hundred thirty million users. You hear a lot of stories I'm Ameri secrets. I'm Ben Brock Johnson. And we are from endless thread the show featuring stories found in the vast ecosystem of online communities called Brennan's every week. We tell a different story from mattress industry conspiracy theories to jellyfish stings that bring victims of sense of doom in even a serial killer that may have saved jazz music subscribed to endless thread wherever you get your podcasts. So how did we get here? I don't just mean a hole in the ground in Orlando one that might or might not hold something as wide as tall and a singular as brand storm on the sea of Galilee. I mean, twenty eight and a half years after the made it look so easy to pull off what remains the single most valuable art heist ever, why does solving it still look so hard all those unreliable narrators, we've told you about our part of the reason these conmen and criminals by turns tragic comical and chilling dead or alive each has been a pretender to the throne of the perfect crime. But was the gardener heist perfect crime? Or has it just been an imperfect investigation the FBI in all of skills have used hard investigative tactics in that's gotten them to short inclusion certain suspects. But it hasn't gotten them to a single credible sighting of any of that work. Playing the same note. The FBI does have a pattern of setting up people of interest on tough charges, hoping they give something up about the Gardner heist in exchange for leniency, the nineteen ninety nine sting TRC auto electric yielded nothing. One suspect died in prison rather than talk to the feds. The others arrested are still behind bars, then more than a decade later, the FBI setup interested, Bobby the cook gentile twice the result. Nothing does this suggest that criminals hate the FBI more than they want their own freedom. Or does it suggest that the FBI has been pursuing the wrong guys parsing the FBI's own statements about the case does make you wonder in two thousand sixteen I retired VI supervisor said that as of the last time he worked on the case in two thousand one the Boston office, quote, new no more than they did the day after it happened that remark echoed what another agent told the? Boston Globe in two thousand ten about the stolen. Art quote. There hasn't been a concrete citing where real proof of life and just five years ago. The head of the Boston FBI admitted, quote, we do not know where the art is currently located. We wanted the perspective of an outsider someone outside the Gardner investigation. But inside law enforcement we landed in the small law office of Tom Dwyer a local who climbed the ranks of the district attorney's office in the nineteen seventies and eighties. Dwyer hopes the FBI solves the Gardner case. But he worries about what it means that they haven't I think the pace was it so spectacular when you see something that's so spectacular. The public expects it to be solved. You know, it's it's a longer period of time than solving most cases involving the serial killers. I don't think. People perceive that nothing's being done. I think people do believe that something is being done. They just don't know what it is. Which brings us to another conclusion. The Gardner investigation has a public relations problem. This case is so high profile so sensational that the Boston FBI's silence in response to simple questions feels like ducking. They didn't even respond to shortlist of questions. We submitted to them in writing. What is it public supposed to think? How would they know? What's good for the investigation and not when they're not part of it. When all they know is what the reading the newspaper. Anthony, a Maure bristles at any suggestion that the public might be critical of how the F B I has handled. The case it's bizarre to me. It's it's feeling that the public has a need to know something that they don't they just don't have to know. I mean, we're not holding things back to play. Play games, whatever we're just trying to make every decision based on. What is the best thing for the investigation? Amaury has lost all patients with any suggestion that he as the man leading the investigation for the museum or the FBI owes the public anything to some people. This is an entertaining. It's a mystery. It's fascinating. It's a luring people think art theft is sexy. It's you know. Great movie that sort of thing, none of those things. What this really is. This investigations about. None of those things. It's strictly about getting the is back and putting them back on the wall. Amaury might not have a duty to the public. But doesn't the Boston FBI? They've investigated the Gardner heist from behind closed doors and they've done it that way for far too long. We believe it's time for some transparency in the Gardner case. But they're on the sidewalk in Orlando. We were beginning to see things clearly. Broken concrete? Yep. Definitely looks like concrete. He's not coming to us. Is he? Why is this happening? Why are they coming now? With the backhoe, dropping chunks of concrete on the grass three people on the lot crossed the street in walked right up to us. It was the landowner his girlfriend and his attorney John Bill the guy who stopped returning. Our phone calls in the run-up to the secret dig, it was a little awkward you almost finished digging. And there's a little bit of the perimeter over there to the they're still looking at the still within the the perimeter of what they believed to be an area, including those nominees, but they've pretty much excavated nine feet. It was just about noon all told the dig had taken less than three hours felt much longer. Time is a way of slowing down. When you think you're unearthing masterworks, our civilization was pretty much exactly where they thought it was in the size, the objects and everything checked out except. Except John Bill said, it was a septic tank in that moment, there could not have been three words in the English language that we wanted to hear less a septic tank. And just like that it was over. Dickel in for a dime. After this whole day of standing across the street. Mysteriously peering across actually just gonna walk right onto the land. Now. Oh, yeah. That's a septic system. Smells, like septic. Just a few hours earlier three skeptical journalists following lead that was as good as any in a case that's stretched on for nearly three decades had given themselves over to hope, and that's his lot. Because even as our collective disappointment smudged that good and open feeling right out. We'd felt it. We'd been propelled by it. All the way to Florida Benedetto, high on it, even so that's what we're left with the hope that thirteen long missing pieces have Ramir three Rembrandts how many AFL Inc. Five Gus catches. An polio Nic financial and Chinese coup will yet be unearthed on some other day in some other place. Before Isabella Stewart Gardner had even purchased the land on what your museum would be built. She reveled in the beauty of her art-filled home on January twentieth. 1898 Gardner wrote to her dealer in Florence Italy, quote downstairs, I feel are all those glories I could go and look at if I wanted to think of that I can see that Rembrandt anytime I want to there's richness for you. And until that Rembrandt in the other Stillman works are back in their rightful places at the garden museum. We are all the poor. The video recreation of the night of the robbery and reads Steve Kirk tunes. Reporter's notebooks. Go to our website, WBZ dot org slash last seen and comb through the archives. See the evidence in read twenty eight years of Gardner, heist. Reporting at globe dot com slash last seen. If you have a tip theory thought color tip line, six one seven nine two nine seven nine nine nine. That's six one seven nine two nine seven nine nine nine last seen is production of WVU are. And the Boston Globe are consulting producers Steven kurkin production and sound design by John Perotti. Eve's Zuko is our production. Assistant additional production by Catherine. Brewer our digital team is Amy Gorell Tiffany Campbell diago food Uehara Jesse Kosta, Robin Lubbock and Elizabeth Gillis. We had help from the Boston Globes. Shelley murphy. Brendan mccarthy. John Tamaki digital health from Heather Cyrus Jason to we Devon Smith and Ryan huddle editing by Jessica Alpert, our executive producer is Iran Adler. I'm senior producer and reporter Kelly horn. And I'm senior reporter, Jack Ridley go special. Thanks to artist. Sophie Calle who I used the title last seen at the Gardner museum in nineteen ninety one. And granted us permission to use. It follow us on Twitter and Instagram at last seen podcast all one word. Quite emotional. You feeling emotional? I don't know how I feel. Holtz feeling I feel tents. I'm going to be enormously said if they've been down there for yeah. Yeah. I know I I'm starting to realize I almost hope if they're anywhere. They're not down there. You know, you want what a terrible place to put them all these years you want more dignity for. Yeah. And you think about what she would be thinking of this moment right now. Watching the big orange digger excavate a hole in the ground. Of a lake in Orlando, Florida under some half dead palm trees. It doesn't seem befitting. No.