Isabella Stewart Gardner was a very wealthy woman who was born on April 14, 1840. Time and her husband were both very kind to her, affording her the opportunity to amass an extraordinary collection of art. When she died in 1924, she left instructions for her vast collection to be housed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a museum that she designed and built to house her collection. I cannot state emphatically enough how very precise her instructions were. She gave strict directions as to how the paintings and other various art objects were to be displayed in the museum. On the 18th in 1990, thieves broke into the museum and made off with paintings conservatively valued in excess of $300 million. The paintings have not been recovered, nor has the identity of the thieves been conclusively determined. As a result of the terms of Ms. Gardner’s will, the empty frames of all the paintings stolen are still on display, exactly where they were when the theft occurred. The museum has taken the extraordinary step of constructing an additional building to exhibit more of its collection without disturbing the layout mandated by Ms. Gardner for the main exhibition space.
Three Rembrandts, including the only seascape that he painted, were among the paintings stolen.