The 1990 Gardner Museum art heist has been so often retold it borders on litany, with a half dozen books and a podcast (co-created by the Boston Globe) in its canon. The theft of 13 works is so well known, it’s a cottage industry for the museum itself. A souvenir shrine of theft-related merch occupies the window of the gift shop (with framed prints of both stolen Rembrandts, plus the missing Vermeer and Manet decorating a table with flickering electric candles).
Upstairs in the galleries, the museum keeps a permanent vigil in memoriam: empty frames where the stolen paintings once hung, declaring their spectral presence. It’s always given the Gardner a feeling of being haunted, a site of profound and lingering loss.