Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman
The Wall highway magazine called him “a dwelling legend.” The London occasions dubbed him “the most famed paintings detective within the world.”
In Priceless, Robert ok. Wittman, the founding father of the FBI’s artwork Crime group, pulls again the curtain on his outstanding profession for the 1st time, delivering a real-life foreign mystery to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.
Rising from humble roots because the son of an old broker, Wittman equipped a twenty-year profession that was once not anything in need of striking. He went undercover, frequently unarmed, to trap artwork thieves, scammers, and black industry investors in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid.
In this page-turning memoir, Wittman fascinates with the tales at the back of his recoveries of necessary paintings and antiquities: The golden armor of an historical Peruvian warrior king. The Rodin sculpture that encouraged the Impressionist circulation. The headdress Geronimo wore at his ultimate Pow-Wow. The infrequent Civil struggle conflict flag carried into conflict through one of many nation’s first African-American regiments.
The breadth of Wittman’s exploits is unequalled: He traveled the realm to rescue work by means of Rockwell and Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and Picasso, usually operating undercover out of the country on the whim of overseas governments. in the direction of domestic, he recovered an unique reproduction of the invoice of Rights and cracked the rip-off that rocked the PBS sequence Antiques Roadshow.
By the FBI’s accounting, Wittman kept enormous quantities of thousands of greenbacks worthy of paintings and antiquities. He says the statistic isn’t vital. in any case, who’s to assert what's worthy extra --a Rembrandt self-portrait or an American flag carried into conflict? they are either priceless.
The paintings thieves and scammers Wittman stuck run the gamut from wealthy to bad, shrewdpermanent to silly, geared up criminals to determined loners. The smuggler who introduced him a looted 6th-century treasure grew to become out to be a high-ranking diplomat. The appraiser who stole numerous heirlooms from battle heroes’ descendants was once a slick, aristocratic con man. The museum janitor who made off with locks of George Washington's hair simply desired to make a number of additional dollars, figuring nobody might pass over what he’d filched.
In his ultimate case, Wittman known as on every piece of data and adventure in his arsenal to tackle his maximum problem: operating undercover to trace the vicious criminals in the back of what may be the main audacious paintings robbery of all.
From the Hardcover edition.
South Jersey, land of jug-handles, no left turns, and Jersey limitations, so that you may well in basic terms get there by means of entering into the other way and creating a sequence of winding correct turns. by the point we reached the circle, Denis used to be asleep. I slowed as I approached the circle, and as I did, a vivid white gentle flashed in my rearview replicate. there has been a two-inch-high concrete minimize on the foot of the circle, channeling site visitors to the precise, yet i used to be distracted by way of the sunshine and didn’t see this cut down. the automobile.
Years after the coincidence, and that i used to be nonetheless looking ahead to trial at the manslaughter fees. Pinsky wasn’t fearful approximately delays, since it gave us time to resolve the screwy blood-alcohol try. each few weeks, the attorney could mail me a stack of records regarding the case—a pleading, a clinical checklist, a personal investigator’s witness interview. I’d quick experiment no matter what Pinsky despatched me, yet i discovered it enormously annoying to learn investigative files approximately myself. It used to be even more durable to.
ads of up-to-date Rockwell photos seemed within the big apple occasions. On Thanksgiving Day, the Tampa Tribune splashed throughout its entrance web page a photograph representation in keeping with Rockwell’s recognized Freedom from wish, exhibiting the matriarch of a giant American relations laying the turkey at the dinner desk. one of many 3 stolen Rockwell work grew to become specifically symbolic in the course of that tumultuous post-terror time. Painted for the Boy Scouts and Brown & Bigelow, The Spirit of ’76 was once timed for the U.S.
Convicted.” I did a double-take. murder? I knew Flores had a protracted rap sheet and that he’d bragged approximately meant effect with Spanish judges and police, that fees opposed to him looked as if it would without notice vanish, yet not anyone had pointed out a homicide cost. I jotted this down. “On four December 2001, we searched their houses and the houses of 4 recognized affiliates. We found”—he became to an aide—“commo pruebas circunstanciales?” “Circumstantial evidence.” “Sí. We discovered circumstantial proof yet no.
the eagerness? we like artwork since it moves a visceral chord in every person, from the eight-year-old child to the octogenarian. the straightforward act of placing paint on canvas or remodeling iron into sculpture, even if via a French grasp or a first-grader, is a surprise of the human brain and creates a common connection. All paintings elicits emotion. All artwork makes you are feeling. reason why, while a piece of artwork is stolen or an historical urban is stripped of its artifacts and its soul, we think violated. As I waited.