LEWISTON – The FBI did not find $300 million worth of artwork when it searched a home in Lewiston last year. However, as an investigation continues into the biggest art heist in history, the city has not been ruled out as the present home of the purloined paintings.

“I think there is a very good chance that these paintings are still out there floating around somewhere,” said reporter and author Ulrich Boser. “And Lewiston is as good a place as any.”

Boser is the author of “The Gardner Heist,” a HarperCollins book that chronicles the 1990 theft of classic paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

In what can only be described as a happy coincidence, Boser’s book was published on Tuesday, the very day it was revealed that the FBI was pursuing new leads in the case.

On Wednesday, the bureau acknowledged that a home in Lewiston was searched based on information from a Massachusetts prison inmate who claimed to have information about the theft.

According to Boser, that search did not produce even tiny clues. The FBI searched another home north of Lewiston, he said, with the same result.

Nothing was found.

The renewed interest in the case occurred when prison inmate Robert C. Beauchamp told the FBI that a now-deceased cellmate had confessed to knowledge of the crime.

The clue was a tasty one that has not been corroborated.

“There are significant problems with Beauchamp’s leads,” Boser said. “Why is he coming forward with that information now?”

Last year, the Boston Herald identified George Reissfelder, a mob associate who died of a cocaine overdose in 1991, as a potential suspect in the Gardner heist. Then Beauchamp contacted the FBI and said that in 1991 Reissfelder told him the artwork was hidden at the Maine home of an associate who had just died.

“He didn’t have addresses,” Boser said. “He had sort of vague names and guesses. His information had to be cobbled together.”

Whatever was cobbled, it led investigators to Lewiston. The FBI would not say where the house that was searched is located. Local police were not even notified that the city had become part of the probe.

Boser has been investigating the Gardner heist since 2000. He says he has established credible sources who tend to point at the Boston mob as the brains behind the theft, in which men dressed as Boston police officers entered the museum and stole artwork, including three Rembrandts and works by Degas and Manet.

As of yet, there is no reason to believe that Beauchamp knows anything at all.

“I have a filing cabinet filled with guys in prison who swear they know where those paintings are,” Boser said. “That art is a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s more likely that the thieves stashed the paintings somewhere.”

Over and over, leads point to Maine, Boser said The theory is that the organized thieves have associates here and that the paintings were sent somewhere in the state for safekeeping, he said.

Could it be Lewiston?

“It’s not implausible, which means it’s possible,” he said.

More about “The Gardner Heist” and Boser’s investigation can be found at www.ulrichboser.com.

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