The Gardner Heist: The Untold Story Behind the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft


Shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men dressed as police officers broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and stole 13 masterpieces including five Degas, three Rembrandts, and a Vermeer. The plundered works are worth an estimated $500 million, and the theft remains the largest unsolved art heist in history.

Detective Harold Smith worked the theft for years, and after his death, reporter Ulrich Boser decided to pick up where he left off. Traveling deep into the art underworld, Boser explored Smith's unfinished leads and came across a remarkable cast of characters, including the brilliant rock 'n' roll art thief; the golden-boy gangster who professes his innocence in rhyming verse; and the Boston heiress Isabella Stewart Gardner, who stipulated in her will that
nothing should ever be changed in her museum.

In THE GARDNER HEIST: The Untold Story Behind the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft, Boser describes how he uncovered new about the identities of the men who robbed the museum nearly two decades ago. A tale of art and greed, of obsession and loss, The book spent five weeks on the Boston Globe best-seller list and became a national best-seller.


North American publisher: Smithsonian Books

Foreign rights: Smithsonian Books, Sandy Hodgman (

Film rights: CAA, Shari Smiley (


“Boser has produced a captivating portrait of the world's biggest unsolved art theft.—Guy Darst of The Wall Street Journal

“Boser has done a public service in exposing the real world of art theft: It isn't about glamour and culture — it's about greed, violence and irreparable, maddening loss.”—Maria Puente of USA Today


“A tantalizing whodunit”—Shelley Murphy of The Boston Globe

“Boser’s book... has the feel of a speedy ride down a mountain road spiked with hairpin turns. Boser deftly steers readers through a cast of characters ranging from the highest of brow…to the lowest imaginable”—Marjorie Kehe of The Christian Science Monitor 


“The empty frame serves as testimony of the museum’s loss; Boser’s book, meanwhile, serves as tribute and oddly satisfying thriller.”—Ellen Wernecke of The Onion’s AV Club


“The book is a thrill.”—Kriston Capps of The Guardian


 “Boser’s rousing account of his years spent collecting clues large and small is enough to make you forget that…the paintings have still not been found.”—Publisher’s Weekly