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Unsolved Murder Could Shed New Light on Gardner Museum Art Heist

A murder that has gone unsolved for decades may offer the latest lead for investigators trying to recover the works stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum over 30 years ago, according to a report by Boston 25.

During that famed heist, 13 artworks, including major paintings by Vermeer and Rembrandt, were taken in the early hours of March 18, 1990. Collectively valued at $500 million, the works have never been recovered. Many names have circulated over the years as to who might have taken the works and who could have come into possession of them shortly after the theft.

Now, a new name has been added the mix: Jimmy Marks, who was shot twice on February 20, 1991, outside his apartment in Lynn, Massachusetts, about 25 minutes northeast of Boston. Marks’s murder is currently unsolved, and there has not been an arrest made in connection with the case.

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Marks was a convicted bank robber and an associate of Robert Guarente, who has long been a person of interest in the case and died in 2004. Guarente had been with Marks earlier in the day of his death and is suspected of having been the one to pull the trigger on Marks.

“[Marks] had connections to subjects suspected of being involved in the Gardner museum heist,” Lynn deputy police chief Mark O’Toole told the Boston Globe. “We don’t know what, if any, role he had. But very likely it was related” to his death.

Investigators believe that Guarente was at one point in possession of two of the stolen works, which he then handed over to another person named Robert Gentile. Gentile, who died in 2021, continually denied having any involvement in the theft or having been in possession of any of the works until his death.

A recent tip to investigators said that prior to his death, Marks “was bragging that he was not only in possession of some of the stolen Gardner artwork, he bragged that he had hidden it,” according to Boston 25. Police recently searched the Lynn apartment where Marks once lived, but did not recover anything.

“At the time that [Marks] was killed, the chief suspect in that homicide [Guarente] is someone we believe had two of the Gardner paintings,” Gardner Museum Security Chief Anthony Amore told Boston 25. “It certainly sets off some flashing lights that this needs to be investigated more thoroughly.”

Shortly after Marks’s death, investigators first were able to place Guarente and Gentile in the same place. Amore told Boston 25, “The fact that these people converge here around the time of the Marks homicide certainly makes a person hunting for the Gardner paintings sit up and pay attention.”

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