February 17, 2017 4:30 pm
Updated: February 17, 2017 4:33 pm

$50K Picasso, Rembrandt attempted art heist foiled by students in Boston

WATCH: Security footage captured the alleged break-and-enter before the suspect was stopped by passers-by.


Three Boston University students helped stop an attempted art heist in progress as they were headed home from celebrating the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl win earlier this month.

Security footage from the Gallery d’Orsay shows a suspect smashing through glass and entering the gallery after hours.

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According to police and gallery staff, works by Picasso, Rembrandt, Chagall and Miró with a combined worth of nearly US$50,000 were targeted by the suspect.

READ MORE: 12 people arrested in Italian Job style heist that netted $17 m in stolen art

But as friends Mackenzie Thompson, Chris Savino and Jesse Doe were walking past the gallery, they heard the alarm blaring.

“We heard the glass break and saw some guy walking with a bunch of paintings,” Doe told NBC Boston.

Savino added, “We saw the guy come out with some paintings, looked at each other, and said, ‘This isn’t normal.’”

The three men called out to the suspect.

“We yell out, ‘What’s going on? Did you take those?’” said Thompson. “He looks behind, sees us running after him and he drops the paintings in an attempt to flee. We didn’t really have a thought process, we just chased after him and grabbed him.”

READ MORE: 70 pieces of art worth $750K stolen in northern Alberta: RCMP

Thompson pinned the suspect against a mailbox while Doe and Savino picked up the art and flagged down a police cruiser.

Police arrested 29-year-old Jordan Russell Leishman, who was arraigned on multiple charges last week. He was held without bail due to a pending assault case from January, according to The Boston Globe.

Gallery co-director Kristine Feeks Hammond told CBS that the incident was “peculiar.”

“He chose a $7,500 Rembrandt work and there’s a $90,000 Rembrandt right next to it,” she said.

The artwork was returned to the gallery, which sustained around $5,000 in damages.

“In hindsight, [safety] should have been more of a concern, but it happened super quick [sic],” said Doe.

Gallery owner Sallie Hirschberg said she was grateful to the three “art heroes” and will be hosting the students at an exclusive gallery event where they will be able to pick a piece of art to take home.

“I was just so grateful,” she said. “For them to step up, seeing something that wasn’t right and to make it right – it was unbelievable.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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