The 1991 murder of a Lynn man could be connected to the Gardner museum heist, investigators say

The story of the Gardner case now involves several mobsters and a man who was shot in the back.

A 1991 murder in Lynn could be connected to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Investigators are now saying the murder of a Lynn man in 1991 could be related to the famously unsolved 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, The Boston Globe reported Sunday.

James Marks, who the Globe described as a “hustler and convicted bank robber,” was killed as he was entering his home in February 1991 when someone shot him from behind, the Globe reported. His murder has never been solved.

Another man, Robert Guarente, was implicated years later in Marks’s murder and was also a “person of interest” in the Gardner heist investigation, the Globe reported, potentially tying Marks to the heist.

Anthony Amore, the museum’s security director, is now talking to the press about the connection between the heist and the murder in the hopes that it might result in new people coming forward with new information about the cases.


On March 18, 1990, two thieves dressed like police officers talked their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston before tying up two guards, and stealing 13 different pieces of artwork that are estimated to be worth a total of $500 million.

The heist remains the largest art theft in U.S. history and is still unsolved. No one has been charged and none of the artwork has been recovered, despite a $10 million reward for information leading to its return.

Marks is said to have bragged about having some of the paintings shortly before his death, Amore told the Globe.

That information was revealed to investigators in 2010 by a tipster who said Marks had hinted that the paintings were hidden inside his Lynn apartment, but the FBI searched the building and found nothing, Amore told the Globe.


Five years later, Elene Guarente, the widow of mobster and “person of interest” in the Gardner case Robert Guarente, told investigators that her husband had been a close friend of Marks and was with him the day he was killed.

Elene Guarente told investigators that her husband had admitted to killing Marks after the fact, but Robert died in 2004 before Elene told investigators of his admission.


Lynn police are hoping to corroborate Elene Guarente’s account of Marks’s death, Lynn Deputy Police Chief Mark O’Toole told the Globe.

“[Marks] had connections to subjects suspected of being involved in the Gardner Museum heist,” O’Toole said. “We don’t know what, if any, role he had. But very likely it was related” to his death.

According to O’Toole, several days after Marks was killed, detectives went to a restaurant to interview someone related to the heist case and, seemingly by chance, saw four men, including Robert Guarente and his longtime friend, Robert Gentile, a Connecticut mafia member who would later be deemed a “person of interest” in the heist case.

Now, investigators are paying much more attention to that run-in because of Guarente’s and Gentile’s suspected connection to the heist.

In 2010, Elene Guarente told the FBI she saw her husband give two of the stolen paintings to Gentile in 1990, the Globe reported.

Gentile persisted in telling investigators that he never had the paintings and didn’t know where they were, even after he was indicted on gun and drug charges and was offered freedom if he could produce the artwork.


Even so, he failed a polygraph test when asked if he ever had a Gardner painting or knew the whereabouts of any of the stolen artwork, the Globe reported. Gentile died in 2021.


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