Police in Connecticut have searched the home of a 79-year-old gangster in connection with a stash of stolen paintings, 16 years after the US$500 million gallery raid became America's biggest-ever art heist.

Robert Gentile, known as Bobby the Cook, is accused of telling at least three people while he was in prison in 2013 on drug and gun charges that he knew where the stolen art was hidden.

The theft, in March 1990, saw two thieves disguised as police officers enter the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and steal 13 works of art. The FBI and the US Attorney's Office continue to investigate, while the museum offers a US$5 million ($7 million) reward for information leading to the artworks.

Gentile took a lie detector test last year and denied having advance knowledge of the heist, ever possessing a Gardner painting or knowing the location of any of the paintings. The result showed a likelihood of less than 0.1 per cent that he was truthful. Gentile says the test was conducted improperly.


Yesterday police arrived with 15 cars, two search dogs and three trucks with heavy equipment. They had previously visited twice and dug up the lawn of Gentile's home, in Manchester, without finding anything.

The Hartford Courant reported that police were focusing on the west side of the house, near a chimney. They tore what appeared to be a vent pipe off the side of the house and pulled off part of the siding and began digging near the base.