By Anjuli Kolb

It is believed that Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger may have had something to do with the infamous Gardner Heist, in which Rembrandt's "Storm on the Sea of Galilee," among other works, was stolen. Yesterday, Catherine Greig, the long-time companion of Bulger, was sentenced to eight years in prison for harboring her boyfriend while he remained atop the FBI’s most wanted list. In a sentencing memo Grieg’s lawyer invites us, by way of Shakespeare, to consider why people love criminals.

1. “Why people fall in love has been debated since before Shakespeare’s sonnets…The truth of the matter is that she was and remained in love with Mr. Bulger…It is not justice to use the law as a cudgel to exact the proverbial ‘pound of flesh’ from a kind, gentle 60-year-old woman who is at the mercy of this court for a fair sentencing commensurate with her conduct which arose out of the love she had for Mr. James Bulger.’’

—Kevin Reddington, sentencing memorandum, filed 11 June, 2012

2. If my dear love were but the child of state,

    It might for Fortune’s bastard be unfather'd,

    As subject to Time’s love or to Time’s hate,

    Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gather'd.

    No, it was builded far from accident;

    It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls

    Under the blow of thralled discontent,

    Whereto th'inviting time our fashion calls:

    It fears not policy, that heretic,

    Which works on leases of short-number'd hours,

    But all alone stands hugely politic,

    That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers.

            To this I witness call the fools of time,

            Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.

—William Shakespeare, Sonnet 124, 1609

3. “It helped…that his brother, William Bulger, was the president of the Massachusetts state senate. The base of Bulger’s personal kingdom was Southie, where he served as the judge and jury, the hometown hero who never left, and teenagers would sometimes scrawl on their notebooks:WHITEY RULES.”

—Ulrich Boser, The Gardner Heist, 2009. 

Let Me Recite What History Teaches (LMRWHT) is a weekly column that flashes the gaslight, candlelight, torch, or starlight of the past on something that is happening now. The citational constellations work to recover what might be best about the “wide-eyed presentation of mere facts.” They are offered with astonishment and largely without comment. The title is taken from the last line of Stein’s poem “If I Told Him (A Completed Portrait of Picasso)."

Image: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee via Wikimedia Commons