The Charleston Library Society welcomes Stephen Kurkjian, critically-acclaimed author and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, as he speaks about his recent art heist thriller, Master Thieves.
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The story of the biggest theft in art history-- Master Thieves
It is a case defined by superlatives - the largest art theft in history, carrying the world’s largest reward offer, longer on the FBI’s list of biggest unsolved art crimes than any other save one. Two men disguised as Boston Police officers trick their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum after midnight, tie up the two night watchmen and make off with an estimated half billion dollars worth of artwork including three works by Rembrandt and a Vermeer masterpiece.
Now 25 years after the theft, Stephen Kurkjian who was the principal reporter on the case for The Boston Globe for years, has written a gripping account of the still-unsolved heist of a quarter century ago. In Master Thieves Kurkjian reveals how the two criminal gangs battling for control of the Boston under-world knew of the museum’s poor security and that one had a motive to pull off the theft - to fashion an exchange that would result in the release of its leader from federal prison.
A Boston native, Stephen Kurkjian spent nearly 40 years as an editor and reporter for The Boston Globe before retiring in 2007. During his career, he shared in three Pulitzer Prizes and won more than 20 regional and national reporting awards.
Educated in the Boston public schools, Kurkjian graduated from Boston Latin School in 1962. He majored in English Literature at Boston University and earned his law degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1970.
Kurkjian was a founding member of The Globe’s investigative Spotlight Team, and its editor for 1979-1986. In 1986, he was named chief of The Globe's Washington Bureau and for six years oversaw the work of the paper's 10 reporters in Washington. In addition, while at the bureau he covered the Supreme Court, the Justice Department and the Bush White House during the first war in Iraq.
Returning to Boston in the early 1990s, he completed numerous investigative projects from The Globe newsroom including the clergy abuse scandal inside the Boston Archdiocese; the devastating fire at a Rhode Island nightclub that took the lives of 100 people and the recovery of a Cezanne still life that was stolen from a Berkshires home in 1978 and later auctioned for $29 million.
His 2005 article of the theft of 13 pieces of artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is regarded as the most complete account of the still-unsolved crime. His book, Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off The World’s Greatest Art Heist, was published to critical acclaim in 2015.