Federal Bureau of Investigation agents yesterday recovered almost half of the $2 million in rare coins stolen from the Fogg Museum last December 2 and apprehended five people in connection with the theft.
James O. Newpher, special agent in charge of the Boston Field Office of the FBI, said the FBI is still seeking the arrests of two additional persons in the theft but he said he hopes "we will apprehend the other two within the next 24 hours."
"We are deeply gratified that a large part of the coins has been recovered thanks to the efficient efforts of the FBI and the police," Seymour Slive, acting director of the Fogg, said yesterday.
FBI agents in Massachusetts and Rhode Island arrested the five suspects in five different towns on complaints authorized by United States Attorney Lincoln C. Almond of Providence, R.I. The five will appear before a U.S. magistrate respective districts in which they were apprehended.
Newpher said the arrests represent the culmination of an 11-month investigation by the FBI and Cambridge, Attleboro, Abington, Mass. and Cumberland, R.I. police departments.
Slive said yesterday that he is confident that the coins will be under heavy security when they return. The robbery, believed to be the largest art theft in the history of the United States, involved about 5000 Greek and Roman coins.
The theft occured at about 12:30 a.m. when at first a single man pulled a gun on the guard on duty and hurried to admit several accomplices.
The thieves used the watchman's set of keys, took the safe from the building, and rifled many storage cases.
David G. Mitten, curator of ancient art at the Fogg, described the recovered coins as "minature masterpieces of classical art and are invaluable assets for teaching and research at Harvard University in many fields involving classical antiquity.