‘This Is a Robbery’ explores Boston’s biggest mystery


Emily Devlin

Frames still hang empty 30 years after thieves stole paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Netflix’s new four-part true-crime docuseries, “This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist,” gives the audience a thrilling and new perspective to the biggest unsolved art heist in history, which took place right here in Boston.

On March 18, 1990, two men dressed as Boston police officers made their way into the famous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum claiming they were there to investigate a disturbance on the museum grounds. After security guard Richard Abath allowed these men to enter the building, he quickly realized what was really going to happen that night.

For the next 81 minutes, the museum became the scene of a major crime that remains unsolved to this day.

The two security guards on duty that night were kidnapped, handcuffed with duct tape and left in the tunnels of the museum before the art was stolen. After the security guards were out of the way, the two thieves made their way through the museum taking pieces of artwork from three different rooms – The Dutch Room, The Short Gallery and The Blue Room.

“This Is a Robbery” premiered on Netflix on April 7 with four episodes. (Netflix Media Center)

In total, 13 pieces were taken from the museum, with each painting cut directly out of the frame it was originally placed in.

This documentary goes through the many different theories that are still being questioned 30 years later about who these two thieves were and where the paintings went. There are three major theories that were investigated by the FBI, which are detailed in the docuseries.

The first theory was the idea that the robbery was an inside job starting with Abath, the security guard, who was on duty that night. Abath was also the only person that night, according to records and motion sensors, to enter The Blue Room.

The second theory discusses the idea that Myles Connor was behind the heist. Connor was well known at this time for numerous art thefts dating back to 1960 in other area museums. Unfortunately, Conner was in jail at the time of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, causing the FBI to have to look somewhere else.

The theory the FBI believes to be the most possible looks into how Boston mobs may be related to the heist. This theory goes through several different mobs and previously convicted mob members trying to find where the paintings are located now.

This docuseries consists of real video, phone recordings, interviews and pictures that were taken at the time of the heist. FBI investigators, suspects and museum directors involved in the investigation were interviewed for the series. Along with the real footage, there are some actors reenacting the night of March 18, 1990.

All 13 pieces of artwork are still missing from the museum and 30 years later the museum continues to hunt for the artwork and is dedicated to getting them back. There is a $10 million reward for anyone who has any information on where the artwork may be currently.

“This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist” discusses the theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in a compelling way that goes into vast detail about the events that took place that night and what followed.

You can stream this limited true-crime docuseries on Netflix now.

Follow Samantha on Twitter @SamHBailey.