Watch CBS News

Man Charged With Trying To Sell Stolen Gardner Museum Paintings

BOSTON (CBS) – A West Virginia man has been arrested on charges he was trying to sell some of the artwork stolen in the unsolved Gardner Museum heist.

Federal authorities say 47-year-old Todd Andrew Desper, who is also known as "Mordokwan", never had the paintings or access to them. Prosecutors say Desper used Craigslist to contact possible buyers in foreign cities and offered them two of the stolen paintings.

Authorities were notified by people who were seeking to assist in the recovery of the artwork, as well as those seeking the $5 million reward offered by the museum.

Gardner Heist
Empty frame at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (CBS)

"It is alleged that the investigation ultimately revealed that Desper had no access to, nor information about, the stolen paintings, but was instead engaged in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme targeting foreign art buyers," the U.S. Attorney's Office for Massachusetts said.

Related: FBI Releases Gardner Art Heist Video

On March 18, 1990, two men disguised as police officers tied up the security guards and stole 13 pieces of art, including rare paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The combined value of the art is estimate at $500 million.

Desper was charged with wire fraud and attempted wire fraud and will appear in federal court in Massachusetts on June 9.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.