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Rediscovered Security Footage Could Help Solve 25-Year-Old $500 Million Art Heist

Sometime after midnight on March 18, 1990 two men robbers dressed as policemen were buzzed into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston by Richard Abath, a young rock musician moonlighting as a security guard. They tied him up, as well as another guard before spending 81 minutes in the museum, making off with 13 works of art—including three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, and a Manet—worth $500 million. They also took the security footage from that night.

The largest art heist in United States' history has never been solved. The identity of the thieves was never determined, the art was never recovered, and the statute of limitations on the crime has long since passed. But now FBI investigators in Boston hope that a newly resurfaced video from the night of March 17, 1990 will help them crack the quarter-of-a-century-old case.

The 6:40 clip shows a car pull up in reverse to a side entrance at the museum. The night guard buzzes open the door and grants unauthorized access to a man at about 12:49 a.m. The man stands in the vestibule, not opening the inner door the museum, returns to his car, comes back to the entry way and then drives off. Although the authorities who released the video didn't say that it was Abath who buzzed the mystery man in, three separate officials confirmed that it was to the Boston Globe. Investigators think it could be a "dry run" for the heist the following night.

Abath, now in his 40s, was unreachable by the Globe or The New York Times. During the initial investigation, he denied any connection to the robbery but admitted that even opening the door for the supposed-policeman was against protocol, and that he allowed some friends into the museum after hours a few months before the robbery. He never mentioned having opened the side door for someone the night before the heist.

In other words: “What you see in the video does not comport with what we have been told in the past,” as Anthony Amore, the museum’s director of security, who has worked with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in a renewed push in recent years to solve the heist, told the Globe.

It's unclear if the footage was examined during the initial investigation but the prosecutor who took over the case about two years ago, Robert Fisher, pulled it from the stacks of Gardner evidence at the F.B.I. and viewed it during a "complete re-examination of the case," according to United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. Now, they're making the video public in hopes that someone recognizes the mystery man and that the works of art can ultimately be recovered.

"Now we are calling on the public for help," Ortiz said.

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Nikola Bradonjic
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Design
5 Wacky Ideas to Redesign the Skateboard
Design by Karim Rashid
Design by Karim Rashid
Nikola Bradonjic

Most skateboards come in a few basic shapes. They may be different widths or lengths, have kicktails or flat noses, or different imagery painted on their decks, but for the average rider, they look fairly similar. That’s not the case with the skateboard decks below, created as part of a competition during NYCxDESIGN, an annual New York City design festival.

For a competition called DeckxDesign, the award-winning design firm frog asked a group of notable branding agencies, artists, product designers, and other creative professionals to reimagine the humble skateboard.

This is the second NYCxDesign competition frog has hosted—in 2017, the agency asked designers to reimagine the dart board.

This time, individual designers like Karim Rashid and groups from firms like MakerBot, Motivate (the company behind bike sharing systems like Citi Bike), and frog itself came up with new ways to skate. There were no rules, just the simple prompt: Design a skateboard.

The results included a piece of furniture, a repurposed Citi Bike tube on wheels, a board covered in greenery, one covered in black faux alpaca hair, a skateboard made from recycled trash, and more. Below are some of the most unusual.

A white table that looks like a skateboard
Design by Aruliden
Nikola Bradonjic

A recycled piece of a Citi Bike on wheels
Design by Citi Bike/Motivate
Nikola Bradonjic

A wavy skateboard with purple, spherical wheels
Design by Karim Rashid
Nikola Bradonjic

A skateboard covered in faux alpaca fiber
Design by Staple Design
Nikola Bradonjic

A skateboard covered in mounds of greenery
Design by XY Feng & Jung Soo Park
Nikola Bradonjic

All of the skateboards created for the competition were later auctioned off to benefit the New York City-based nonprofit Art Start.

All images by Nikola Brandonjic

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Art
Google Launches World's Largest Digital Collection of Frida Kahlo Artifacts
YouTube
YouTube

Fans of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo have a lot of new material to sift through, thanks to Google’s launch of the largest-ever digital exhibition of artworks and artifacts related to the painter. As reported by Forbes, the “Faces of Frida” retrospective and its 800-item collection were the result of a collaboration between the Google Arts & Culture platform and 33 museums around the world.

A screenshot of Google's digital archive of Frida Kahlo artworks
YouTube

Visitors to the website can peruse rare artworks from private collections that had never been digitized until now, including View of New York, a sketch Kahlo made in 1932 while staying at the former Barbizon-Plaza Hotel. There are also personal photographs of Kahlo, as well as letters and journal entries that she penned.

Using Street View, you can even see inside the “Blue House” where she lived in Mexico City. Another feature lets visitors zoom in on high-resolution paintings, which were created using Google’s Art Camera, according to designboom.

For Google executives, the decision to celebrate the life and work of Kahlo was a no-brainer. “Frida's name kept coming up as a top contender when we started to think of what artist would be the best to feature in a retrospective,” Jesús Garcia, Google's head of Hispanic communications, told Forbes. “There's so much of her that was not known and could still be explored from an artistic perspective and life experience.”

An original artwork by multimedia artist Alexa Meade was specially commissioned for “Faces of Frida.” Photographer Cristina Kahlo, Kahlo’s great-niece, aided in the process. Check out the video below to see how she brought Kahlo's artwork to life in a living, breathing painting.

[h/t Forbes]

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