WBUR’s “Last Seen” shares an anthology of stories that twist the true crime genre. Now in its second season, the podcast is back with stories like Murph the Surf’s nefarious jewel heist and trailing the once lost and ownership-disputed Modigliani painting, “Seated Man with a Cane.” A different storyteller will be highlighted each week on episodes detailing missing people, places, and things, and some topics remain mysteries. This season, “Last Season” true crime cases involve endangered species, humans, ashes, planets, and feelings – just to name a few topics.
This season, we’re looking forward to streaming all ten episodes, being released over the next few weeks. So far, the episodes are under 40 minutes each, and listeners can start standalone episodes in any order. In 2018, “Last Seen” covered one of the greatest art heists in history, where 13 pieces were lifted from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusettes. Hear season one in chronological order for the whole story. Both seasons are suitable for fans of “Heist Podcast” and “Scam Goddess.”
Episode 1 recounted Jack Murphy, a.k.a. Murph the Surf’s, notorious jewel heist from the 1960s. The surfer-turned-thief recruited Alan Kuhn and Roger Clark to break into J.P. Morgan Hall of Gems and Minerals at NYC’s Museum of Natural History, entering through an open window. After police launched a manhunt, the men ran free for 48 hours with their loot until they were found and apprehended.
In this episode, Amory Sivertson investigates Murph the Surf’s mythology and why stories like his are idolized. We learned that research for Murphy’s story contributed to season two of the investigative podcast, “The Sneak.” Check out “The Sneak” season two for a deep-dive into Murph the Surf’s story. After the heist, he was released from prison, self-identified as a born-again Christian, was involved in the Whiskey Creek Murders, and received two life sentences that were shortened in later years. Murph the Surf appeared on “The Sneak,” and he passed away in 2020.
Ben Brock Johnson hosted season 2, episode 2, “Out of Time.” In this episode, we learn about freeports’ uses in the art world to keep objects safe, one would think. These warehouses store many of the world’s finest treasures away from the public.
Ben shared one of the cases leaked in the Panama Papers, a set of offshore finance documents and records. One of the Papers’ issues exposed two families’ dispute over an Amedeo Modigliani painting from 1918, “Seated Man with a Cane.” Modigliani was alive in the 19th and 20th centuries and is best known for his portraits. This episode explores the complicated allegations of theft and an international investigation over who owned “Seated Man with a Cane.”
For more atypical true crime stories, check out the latest season of “Last Seen.”