Twenty years ago to the day, two thieves entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, USA, and seized art including a Vermeer, three Rembrandts and a Manet, with a total current value of about £350 million. John Wilson reports from the Museum on this audacious robbery, which remains the single greatest property theft ever. Empty frames on the gallery walls remain a sad and constant reminder of the crime.

John talks to investigators from the Museum and the FBI still on the trail of the missing art, and hears the many theories about the possible perpetrators. Novelist Tracy Chevalier, who saw the Vermeer in the Museum before it was stolen, reflects on the part this painting played in her novel Girl With A Pearl Earring, and crime writer David Hosp discusses his fictional account of the crime and its aftermath in his new novel Among Thieves.

And despite the two decades since these art works disappeared from public view, John discovers that a happy ending is not out of the question.

Release date:

Available now

30 minutes

Last on

Sat 25 Jan 2014 19:15


Role Contributor
PresenterJohn Wilson
Interviewed GuestTracy Chevalier
Interviewed GuestDavid Hosp

Front Row on BBC Two

Series 1

Join Giles Coren, Nikki Bedi and Amol Rajan on Saturday evenings at 7.30pm.

Man Booker Prize 2017


A collection of short films about this year's shortlist.

BBC National Short Story Award

NSSA 2017 Shortlist writers composite image

The 2017 shortlist and their stories

Queer Icons

Queer Icons

Front Row: LGBTQ guests champion queer artworks which are special to them.

BBC Arts Digital

Arts logo red

The best of British culture live and on demand.

Books website

Books home

Get closer to books with in-depth articles, quizzes and our picks from radio & TV.