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Feds Say Mobster May Have Connections To Gardner Theft

Twenty-two years and one week after the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner theft, federal investigators say they have a new lead. It comes in the form of an alleged Connecticut mobster, Robert Gentile, who is in court facing charges of distributing prescription drugs.

The Hartford Courant reports that at a hearing on Tuesday, federal prosecutors said Gentile had “some involvement” in the 1990 museum theft. Just exactly what that involvement was isn’t yet clear, and Gentile and his lawyer say it’s not true.

At age 75, Gentile has a long and colored past — including, prosecutors say, once having hatched a plan to rob an armored car as it left Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Gentile is just the latest lead in what remains the largest art theft in the country’s history. And after 22 years of dead ends and no recovered paintings, one art detective still has this to say when he hears a new lead: “I get excited.”

Robert Wittman is a former senior investigator and founder of the FBI’s National Art Crime Team. He’s now a private investigator. Wittman explains why art is such a hot commodity for a certain brand of criminal.

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Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer is co-hosting Radio Boston while Meghna Chakrabarti is on maternity leave.

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