(ABC) - Twenty-three years to the day that thieves stole irreplaceable artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, federal authorities announced they had identified the people responsible for the half-billion dollar heist.
"We have identified the thieves who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England," said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office.
On the night of March 18, 1990, two thieves posed as Boston police officers. Once inside the museum, they tied up the guards and left with 13 masterpieces, including works by Degas and Rembrandt, valued at a total of $500 million.
The statute of limitations has since run out on the theft and officials have said naming the suspects would be "imprudent," given the continuing effort to recover the art work.
DesLauriers said the announcement today, on the 23rd anniversary of the heist, was intended to increase public awareness, possibly leading to the artwork being found.
"The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence in the years after the theft the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft," DesLauriers said.