1991 murder may be linked to Gardner Museum robbery


The story of the Gardner case now involves several mobsters and a man who was shot in the back.

A 1991 murder in Lynn may be linked to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Investigators now say the 1991 murder of a Lynn man may be linked to the notorious unsolved 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, The Boston Globe reported Sunday.

James Marks, who World described as a “convicted hustler and bank robber”, was killed as he entered his home in February 1991 when someone shot him from behind, the World reported. His murder has never been elucidated.

Another man, Robert Guarente, was implicated years later in Marks’ murder and was also a “person of interest” in the investigation into the Gardner robbery, the World reported, potentially linking Marks to the heist.

Anthony Amore, the museum’s director of security, is now speaking to the press about the link between the robbery and the murder in hopes it might lead to new people coming forward with new information about the cases.

On March 18, 1990, two robbers dressed as police officers broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston before tying up two guards and stealing 13 different works of art with an estimated total value of $500 million.

The heist remains the largest art theft in US history and remains unsolved. No one has been charged and none of the artwork has been recovered, despite a $10 million reward for information leading to his return.

Marks is said to have bragged about having some of the paintings shortly before his death, Amore told the World.

This information was revealed to investigators in 2010 by a tipster who said Marks had hinted the paintings were hidden inside his Lynn apartment, but the FBI searched the building and found nothing, saying declared Amore to World.

Five years later, Elene Guarente, the widow of mobster and “person of interest” in the Gardner Robert Guarente case, told investigators that her husband was a close friend of Marks and was with him on the day he has been killed.

Elene Guarente told investigators her husband admitted to killing Marks after the fact, but Robert died in 2004 before Elene told investigators her confession.

Lynn police are hoping to corroborate Elene Guarente’s account of Marks’ death, Lynn Deputy Police Chief Mark O’Toole told the World.

“[Marks] had ties to subjects believed to be involved in the Gardner Museum heist,” O’Toole said. “We don’t know what role he played, if any. But most likely, it was related” to his death.

According to O’Toole, several days after Marks’ death, detectives went to a restaurant to interview someone connected to the robbery and, apparently by chance, saw four men, including Robert Guarente and his friend from longtime, Robert Gentile, a Connecticut mob. member who would later be deemed a “person of interest” in the heist case.

Now, investigators are paying much more attention to this run-in due to the alleged link between Guarente and Gentile and the heist.

In 2010, Elene Guarente told the FBI that she saw her husband give two of the paintings stolen from Gentile in 1990, the World reported.

Gentile persisted in telling investigators that he never had the paintings and did not know where they were, even after being charged with firearms and drugs and being offered freedom if he could produce the work of art.

Even so, he failed a polygraph test when asked if he had ever had a painting by Gardner or knew where one of the stolen artworks was, the World reported. Gentil passed away in 2021.

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