Interview: Ulrich Boser

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  March 24, 2009

What about the alarms that had gone off earlier that evening, in the conservation lab and the carriage house?
It's hard to figure out exactly what happened. I heard some stories that, because they're so loud, one of the alarms set off the other one, that some vibrating could have occurred. You know, I would chalk those up again to mysteries within the mystery. And then the thieves also — an alarm goes off to indicate that they were too close to the art. In my mind, if I were a thief and I were robbing some museum and an alarm buzzes while I'm there — even if I had a high degree of confidence, I would be quite worried. I would start thinking about moving a little quicker and getting out. To me again, them basically kicking it [the alarm] and going on — we don't know exactly when that happened in their time there, but most likely quite early on. Again, that's a high degree of confidence, in my mind, that they knew what they were doing, that they knew they had total control of the museum.

What about the motion detector that didn't go off on the first floor. How can that be? We know the thieves were on the first floor — that's where they found Manet'sChez Tortoni. It's even been suggested that they left the frame of the Manet on the desk guard's chair as a hint that the painting was his payoff.
What we know is, the Manet was still in the Blue Room on the first floor. It's my understanding that the motion detectors worked earlier that evening and that they worked later. The motion detectors do not indicate that the thieves went into that room. So how did the painting leave that room? This feels like one of those Sherlock Holmes moments when we sit back, pull out our pipe, and wonder. And the frame from that painting was found on the security guard's chair, and that symbol to me suggests more of a snub of the museum, of the museum world, of the Boston police, perhaps. Those are the two facts that I think we have there. So one can extrapolate from that. Yes, some have suggested that meant that one of the guards was involved. That they could have done a little dance to sneak past these motion detectors. My understanding is that these motion detectors were good for their time, but they were not the all-seeing eye that we have now in these casinos where you know it's nearly impossible to get through.

Do you think the guards had the capacity to deactivate the motion detectors?

I do not know the answer to that question. But that would register on the computer. The computer feeds in the data, and then if you were to turn it off — everything seems to have been working normally before and afterward, and then this painting disappears from there. It's possible that the detector was on the blink and so did not register the thieves as they went by.

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