Man pleads guilty in scheme to sell paintings from Gardner Museum heist

Gardner Museum Art Heist Mystery
Empty frames from which thieves took "Storm on the Sea of Galilee," left rear, by Rembrandt and "The Concert," right foreground, by Vermeer, remain on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. –Josh Reyndolds / AP, File

BOSTON (AP) — A West Virginia man has pleaded guilty to pretending he had access to paintings stolen in the largest art heist in U.S. history and fraudulently trying to sell them on the internet for millions of dollars.

Todd Andrew Desper pleaded guilty in Boston’s federal court Thursday to wire fraud and attempted wire fraud. He’s scheduled to be sentenced in May.

Prosecutors say Desper solicited buyers on Craigslist for two paintings he claimed were among 13 stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Prosecutors say Desper had no access to or information about the stolen paintings.

The FBI has said two suspects who masqueraded as police officers to rob the museum of $500 million worth of masterpieces are dead.

Desper’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to an email Thursday.

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