Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gardnering (UPDATED)

There's a story on the front page of tomorrow's New York Times Arts & Leisure section on Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Two art law issues figure prominently.

The first is the recent ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (mentioned earlier here) that "the museum can depart from the strict parameters of Gardner’s prickly will" and go ahead with a proposed expansion. ("According to the will if the arrangement of any of the museum’s holdings changes, the entire collection, the building and the land beneath it must be turned over to Harvard.")

The other is "the lingering wound" of "the dead-of-night theft on March 18, 1990, of three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, a Manet and other works worth several hundred million dollars by two men disguised as police officers":

"Despite a $5 million reward, a mountain of tips that still grows almost weekly and the hiring in 2005 of a new security director ... another March 18 will almost certainly pass without the stolen art’s return. The theft has roiled many imaginations, including that of Ulrich Boser, whose book, 'The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft,' was published last month by HarperCollins. It examines a web of theories about the case and more or less concludes that the culprits were David Turner, now serving a 38-year prison term for attempting to rob an armored car, and George Reissfelder, a felon who died in 1991."

UPDATE: Geoff Edgers rounds up the links on the Gardner's "big media Sunday."