The Dark Truth About Alleged Mobster Robert 'Bobby The Cook' Gentile

Art thefts fascinate many people, and the more daring they are, the more people want to learn about them. So, after the robbery at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in March 1990, many wondered how such a burglary could happen.

While the police investigated many possible leads, ultimately, they focused on the Boston mafia. One person of interest was Robert "Bobby the Cook" Gentile, a man suspected as part of organized crime. Gentile's moniker, "the cook," comes from an interest in gourmet food and because he allegedly once said he "would eat himself to death" if he ever got caught by the FBI.

Gentile first showed up on police radar in 2010, reported the Hartford Courant. The wife of another mobster, Robert Guarente, told investigators her husband had owned two stolen paintings. Guarente, who died in 2004, allegedly gave the art to Gentile for safekeeping.

According to WTNH, Gentile grew up during the Great Depression and had a difficult childhood. His father demanded he pay him $25 a week to keep living in the house. Gentile had to quit high school and find a job to keep a roof over his head. He worked in construction, but authorities believed he really worked for the mob. Gentile had been in prison before, the police said, and that may be where he was introduced to the mafia.

However, Gentile insists he is innocent and has never been part of the mafia.

Is he telling the truth?

In 2012, the FBI brought in Robert Gentile for drug charges, with the help of an informant, and subjected him to a polygraph test. The authorities asked if he had possession of the stolen art. He said "no," but the polygraph suggested he lied. According to Gentile's lawyer, the results were inconclusive since there was a significant presence of FBI in the room.

While in jail, the FBI obtained a warrant to search his house. They found police hats, badges, $20,000 in cash, several firearms, and a list of the stolen art complete with estimated black market prices.

Gentile, now 87, told WTNH the list was just that, a list that someone gave him. According to him, the list did not mean he knew where the paintings were. Gentile also said it might have been a part of a scheme to defraud people by an associate.

CTPost reported that Gentile told federal agents he had access to the paintings, but his lawyer dismissed this, saying his client was being coerced. Gentile was facing gun charges at the time, which he ultimately went to prison for.

Gentile was released in 2019. He now lives off social security and depends on his lawyer to bring him groceries. Gentile claims the FBI set him up to get him to confess, but he notes that if he had any information, he would've told the authorities already. Gentile said the Gardner investigation ruined his life and caused his wife's death.

The Gardner Museum art theft is still unsolved. The museum is offering a $10 million reward for any information.