By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (March 18, 2024) – In this edition of Fun with Maps we learn about a most mystifying theft from 34 years ago.


The largest art heist in the US took place on March 18, 1990.  It happened at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. 

Thirteen works of art were taken, valued at $600 million, and all of them are still missing today.  The museum is offering a $10 million reward to information leading to their recovery.

Isabella Stewart Gardner was a turn-of-the century Bostonian socialite turned art collector.  She displayed her collection in her private home where the living quarters were on the upper floor.  After her death in 1924, she left the house as a museum with the instructions that everything should remain as it was, no additions or deletions.

Because of these instructions, the heist was uncomplicated as the museum lacked modern security systems.  While puzzling as to what was taken and what was passed over, it seems the thieves were sent with specific items in mind.

If you visit the Gardner Museum today, the empty frames still hang in place on the walls, eerily awaiting the return of their contents.

Garfield’s pictorial map of Boston from the 1950s is presented here.  The Gardner Museum is in the middle left.

Boston – Circa 1950’s (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.