Master Thieves, a relationship reminder

Posted on December 28, 2015
Filed Under Providence Journal - Relationships | Leave a Comment

By Rita Watson
Special to The Journal Posted Dec. 13, 2015 @ 12:01 am

With all of the halls being decked with holly, couples and families are frantically searching for the perfect gift. In these days of Internet shopping and mania at the malls, we sometimes forget about gifts that can strengthen relationships. It took a new development — a video of a potential suspect — in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist to remind me of gifts that create serenity. When someone in a relationship invests in a museum membership, or a concert or theater subscription, both the arts and togetherness are supported.

Stephen Kurkjian, author of “Master Thieves,” is outraged about the heist. “These thieves stole more than a Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas; they stole gifts given to us by this great lady. They deprived the art community and our children of treasures lost to us 25 years ago and still lost,” Kurkjian told me. He said he wrote “Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist” in an effort to “keep up the pressure” to find these works.
Kurkjian added, “When artworks are stolen in Europe there is almost a national mourning as agencies pool resources and commit to finding the pieces.”

It was in mourning the loss of her only child at age 2 that Gardner embarked on travel at the suggestion of her doctors. She overcame her depression, returned to Boston, and traveled again with her husband. This time she embarked on collecting furniture, fabric and artwork. Kurkjian reminds us that “she sponsored painters, musicians, and dancers and, after her death, gave thousands to organizations to protect children and animals and endowed her museum for others to enjoy.”

The museum was a gift to her Boston neighbors. Some call this unconditional love, giving with no expectation of a return. Loving others not because they earn your love or deserve your love, but simply because you believe in showing love.

His voice sounding like that of a man on a mission, Kurkjian continued, “I’m calling upon clergy, churches, and citizens to make an effort to bring back these paintings. We know that someone knows what has happened. Why the conspiracy of silence?” A former member of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, who has shared three Pulitzers, Kurkjian is passionate when telling the story of the museum heist. TriStar Productions has optioned the movie rights to his book.

When couples share a museum membership, it guarantees them a time to put day to day stress behind them as they walk the halls of a gallery and exchange thoughts. Or with subscriptions to music or the theater another opportunity for intimacy is created through uplifting moments. For two people to give to each other a gift that supports the arts mean sharing time and beauty while creating memories to treasure.

Rita Watson, M.P.H., a Providence Journal relationship columnist, writes “With Love and Gratitude” for

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