Man Busted in Fraud Scam After Offering Gardner Museum's Missing Masterpieces on Craigslist

  • The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, from 1633, is the only seascape by the Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt van Rijn.  It was cut from its frame and stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1990.

    The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, from 1633, is the only seascape by the Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt van Rijn. It was cut from its frame and stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1990.

A West Virginia man has pleaded guilty to wire fraud for offering online two stolen artworks from the Gardner Museum in Boston.

Todd Andrew Desper was sentenced by a U.S. District Court judge to time served and three years of supervised release, three months of which will be spent in home confinement.

Desper targeted foreign buyers with a Craigslist post listing Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and Vermeer’s “The Concert” as available. The two paintings are among 13 stolen artworks that are still missing from the Gardner Museum since the world's largest art heist in 1990. 

In an email exchange with the Gardner's security director, who followed tips about the listing, Desper asked that a cashier’s check for $5 million be sent to a location in West Virginia, in exchange for “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” which would be returned underneath another painting.

Investigators determined Desper did not have access to the stolen art and he was charged with wire fraud in February.

There is a $10 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the Gardner's artworks, altogether worth over $500 million.

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