In the early hours of March 18, 1990 — as Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day revelers were heading home — two men dressed as police officers tricked themselves into entering the closed Isabella Gardner Museum. “It’s a robbery,” they told the guards before tying them up. They spent the next hour looting the walls of the art museum, coming away with 13 works that totaled $500 million. Despite a permanent reward offer of $10 million, no one has provided information to recover even a single missing job. Netflix’s new four-part documentary, It’s a flight, details what is now known as the world’s most expensive art theft. Before the show, here’s a guide to the drawings, paintings, and artifacts you’ll no longer see on display at the Gardner.
The concert by Vermeer (circa 1664)
Some experts believe this Dutch masterpiece, valued at more than $200 million, is the most expensive missing painting in the world.
The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt (1633)
According to It’s a flight, this biblical painting is the only seascape the Golden Age master ever made.
A lady and a gentleman in black by Rembrandt (1633)
This missing work is probably Rembrandt’s first double portrait, painted when he was in his twenties.
landscape with obelisk by Govert Flinck (1638)
This work by a lesser-known Dutch painter was considered a Rembrandt when Isabella Gardner, the founder of the Gardner Museum, acquired it.
At Tortoni by Edouard Manet (1875)
At Tortoni is one of Manet’s snapshots of Parisian café society at the end of the 19th century.
Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man by Rembrandt (1633)
This thumbnail design is smaller than 2 inches square. Gardner bought it for $120 in 1886.
Output Weighing by Edgar Degas (19th century)
It is one of five works on paper by Degas stolen during the robbery.
Procession On A Road Around Florence by Degas (late 1850s)
This small pencil drawing of a procession has Florence in the background.
Three mounted jockeys by Degas (late 1880s)
This unfinished horse drawing was stored in a cabinet designed by Isabella Gardner herself.
Program For An Artistic Evening by Degas (1884)
This charcoal drawing presents the same discordant images as Degas Study 2: dancers, fireplaces and music.
Program of an artistic evening, study 2 by Degas (1884)
This version is more finished, leaving room in the corner for information about the evening to be added later.
Bronze eagle tip
This 10-inch French flagship once adorned a mast displaying a silk flag of Napoleon’s first regiment of the Imperial Guard. The thieves also attempted to steal the flag, but settled for the finial when the flag holder refused to open.
Ancient Chinese Gu (1200–1100 BC)
The Shang dynasty vessel was the oldest object stolen from the museum and one of the oldest pieces in Isabella Gardner’s collection.