Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures Info

Fan Club Reviews of best titles on art fashion, artists, history, photography. Check out our top reviews and see what others have to say about the best art and photography books of the year. Check out Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures Community Reviews - Find out where to download Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures available in multiple formats:Paperback,Hardcover,Kindle,Audible Audiobook,Audio CD Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures Author:Robert K. Wittman,John Shiffman Formats:Paperback,Hardcover,Kindle,Audible Audiobook,Audio CD Publication Date:Jun 7, 2011


The Wall Street Journal called him “a living
legend.” The London Times dubbed him “the most famous
art detective in the world.”
 
In Priceless,
Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team,
pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career for the first time,
offering a real-life international thriller to rival The Thomas Crown
Affair
.   
 
Rising from humble roots as the
son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career that was
nothing short of extraordinary. He went undercover, usually unarmed, to
catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and
Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid.
 
In this
page-turning memoir, Wittman fascinates with the stories behind his
recoveries of priceless art and antiquities: The golden armor of an
ancient Peruvian warrior king. The Rodin sculpture that inspired the
Impressionist movement. The headdress Geronimo wore at his final
Pow-Wow. The rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of
the nation’s first African-American regiments.
 
The
breadth of Wittman’s exploits is unmatched: He traveled the world
to rescue paintings by Rockwell and Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and
Picasso, often working undercover overseas at the whim of foreign
governments. Closer to home, he recovered an original copy of the Bill
of Rights and cracked the scam that rocked the PBS series Antiques
Roadshow.

 
By the FBI’s accounting, Wittman saved
hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art and antiquities. He says
the statistic isn’t important. After all, who’s to say what
is worth more --a Rembrandt self-portrait or an American flag carried
into battle? They're both priceless. 
 
The art thieves
and scammers Wittman caught run the gamut from rich to poor, smart to
foolish, organized criminals to desperate loners.  The smuggler who
brought him a looted 6th-century treasure turned out to be a
high-ranking diplomat.  The appraiser who stole countless heirlooms
from war heroes’ descendants was a slick, aristocratic con
man.  The museum janitor who made off with locks of George
Washington's hair just wanted to make a few extra bucks, figuring no one
would miss what he’d filched.
 
In his final case,
Wittman called on every bit of knowledge and experience in his arsenal
to take on his greatest challenge: working undercover to track the
vicious criminals behind what might be the most audacious art theft of
all.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures:

1

October 15, 2010

Don't judge this book by its cover.
I head Wittman's interview on NPR and was fascinated by the stories he told. This is why I bought the book. After reading it, I am convinced that Wittman is probably a very nice man, who works very hard at a thankless and often dangerous job. I also learned about the importance of art and the tedious and monotonous nature of FBI investigations. Because that's what this book is; tedious and monotonous.

Wittman writes this like a police report. There are endless details and he makes sure you get every little thing that's going on. I'm sure it helps when he has to testify in court, but it makes for a dreadful read. I mostly blame the coauthor, who should have taken an axe to about eighty percent of the narrative and helped tighten this. The book promises stories of undercover adventure. What it delivers are art history lessons and FBI politics. In fact, many of the crimes are almost presented pro forma.

If you are hoping to read a real life crime thriller, pass on this book.
1

July 27, 2010

I hated it....
A staggering disappointment. The world of art and antiquities theft has been under reported and poorly documented crime genre and this book offers little insight into it. The five word sentences, self-absorption and 4th grade vocabulary ground me down. I learned more about FBI politics and the author's career arch than the Gardner Museum theft. If I wanted to read this much about Wittman I would have waited for his biography
4

April 8, 2014

very interesting stuff, campy writing
I heard this guy interviewed on NPR and immediately got the book. The heists and investigations he recounts are riveting; many are familiar from news stories. I was astonished at the pathetic security implemented at major galleries around the world. In many cases the thefts were childishly easy, including one escape on a bicycle

His writing stye is very solidly in the "There-I-was up to my neck...." mould, which gets pretty tedious. One chapter begins with " I reflected on all I had a accomplished in my long career......." so he's not short on ego. He could have benefited from a ghost writer but its still a great read.
5

May 4, 2016

Excellent Blend of Art History and True Crime Story
I don't normally write reviews, but this book is worth a special mention. I like learning new information in an entertaining way. This book fulfills that need. We learn about the history of the artifacts that Mr. Wittman went undercover to try to recover, along with the techniques necessary to catch the bad guys. The story takes us to exotic locales and we meet fascinating characters along the way.
I think it would enhance the book if it were illustrated. It would be easy to add pictures of the stolen items that Mr. Wittman tried to recover.
If you enjoy art history or true crime stories, I recommend that you read this book!
5

Nov 04, 2019

In talking about this with friends, I called it an autobiography. Wittman calls it a memoir, and I suppose that is the more accurate term as there is very little having to do with his life other than his FBI career. Wittman tells us that even as a child he had been interested in working for the FBI. His neighbor was an agent and his favorite TV program was The F.B.I. with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. When he finally landed a job as agent, there was not as yet an FBI Art Crimes Unit.

Wittman tells us how In talking about this with friends, I called it an autobiography. Wittman calls it a memoir, and I suppose that is the more accurate term as there is very little having to do with his life other than his FBI career. Wittman tells us that even as a child he had been interested in working for the FBI. His neighbor was an agent and his favorite TV program was The F.B.I. with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. When he finally landed a job as agent, there was not as yet an FBI Art Crimes Unit.

Wittman tells us how he felt lucky that his first position was to be paired with a man in the property crimes squad in Philadelphia, a man who had more than a passing interest in investigating art crime. And as further luck would have it, in his first month with the bureau there were two museum thefts. Wittman's story continues as he went undercover in a number of cases where he was successful in recovering precious art.

There were a couple of cases that interested me a bit more than others. One involved the recovery of a Civil War battle flag. This flag had been carried at the front of a Corps d'Afrique unit and there were only 5 such flags known to exist. Wittman spent several pages providing background on how initially African Americans weren't allowed to participate in other than support positions, and then how they eventually served honorably. Another case involved the recovery of one of the original 14 copies of the Bill of Rights. After passing Congress, 14 copies were made: one to stay in Washington, DC and 13 others to be delivered to each of the original states for ratification. At the end of the Civil War, as Union soldiers captured Raleigh, North Carolina, that state's "copy" went missing.

Wittman tells of other cases where he went undercover. He went undercover in cases involving Rembrandt and Picasso and other names easily recognized even by those who aren't art followers, like me. Throughout, however, he talks about how important these works are to all of us. Simply put, they are our history and our heritage.

I continue to wonder why I am drawn to books having to do with lives and activities surrounding art, while having little interest in the works of art themselves. But I *am* drawn to this type of work and I will likely be content to find myself in front of another, either nonfiction or fiction. This memoir put a lot in context. It is very readable and I suspect that is due in large part to his co-writer, John Shiffman, an investigative reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer. I think Wittman might not have more stories to tell, but I should watch for others by Shiffman. This was better than I might have expected and I enjoyed it thoroughly - 5-stars worth. ...more
1

February 18, 2011

A real stinker
An FBI agent gets drunk, kills his friend during a DUI, then somehow holds onto his job. He then proceeds to write the worst book ever in an attempt to justify him self. Anyone who halfway believes his "undercover" stories, well I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

He spent page after page on the Gardner museum theft, probably engineered by Whitey Bulger...guess what, the paintings are still missing. So why all the ink on that one? Female FBI agents in bikinis, I don't think so.

Perhaps as a bit of fiction this would be worth 21/2 stars...as a true crime novel, zero.
4

Jul 28, 2013

"Undercover work is like chess. You need to master your subject and stay one or two moves ahead of your opponent.....It's all about understanding human nature--winning a person's trust and then taking advantage of it. You befriend, then betray."

Robert Wittman's memoir of his twenty years as an art detective for the FBI was fascinating. He traveled around the world recovering hundreds of millions of dollars of stolen art. The author points out that a part of our history and our culture is lost "Undercover work is like chess. You need to master your subject and stay one or two moves ahead of your opponent.....It's all about understanding human nature--winning a person's trust and then taking advantage of it. You befriend, then betray."

Robert Wittman's memoir of his twenty years as an art detective for the FBI was fascinating. He traveled around the world recovering hundreds of millions of dollars of stolen art. The author points out that a part of our history and our culture is lost whenever art and antiquities are stolen. He also founded and trained the FBI's Art Crime Team.

John Shiffman, an investigative reporter, worked as a team with Robert Wittman to write this informative and entertaining look at art theft, FBI undercover work, and government bureaucracy. ...more
1

September 14, 2012

It's just a self biography
I thought it was going to be some kind of exciting police thriller based on real life events, but it turned out to be just a boring biography of someone who apparently had a very exciting life.
4

September 13, 2013

Entertainment and Insight
Former FBI agent Robert Wittman calls on his professional experience, his personal passions, and his unique cultural upbringing to bring to the reader a well crafted account about how a one time salesman joined the FBI in his 30's to becomes the godfather of the FBI Art Team.

Every chapter or so tells of a different case he worked, combining the case itself with his own personal history, in order to bring the reader a very personal, although not overly sentimental, account of the crimes he solved and how he solved them.

The nice part is that Wittman is honest, to the point, and not afraid to show his own flaws. In other words, he doesn't write himself as a hero worthy of adoration. Instead, he describes his own perspectives, successes, and failures in a way so humble that the reader can't help but identify with him.

It is well written. It is easy to read. It is a great story of one man set against the backdrop of cultural history. A fantastic book.
4

Aug 20, 2018

Robert Wittman’s memoir about his 20-year career as an FBI agent specializing in art and cultural history crimes. He traveled internationally and worked with other countries’ law enforcement agencies to recover stolen art and antiquities, such as Geronimo’s war bonnet, North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, a Rembrandt self-portrait, a Peruvian golden backflap (from a suit of armor), and more. The book takes each case, examines the history of the stolen property, and details the covert Robert Wittman’s memoir about his 20-year career as an FBI agent specializing in art and cultural history crimes. He traveled internationally and worked with other countries’ law enforcement agencies to recover stolen art and antiquities, such as Geronimo’s war bonnet, North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, a Rembrandt self-portrait, a Peruvian golden backflap (from a suit of armor), and more. The book takes each case, examines the history of the stolen property, and details the covert work required to recover it. He weaves elements from his personal life into the narrative.

I found this book fascinating. It revolves around two of my personal passions: art and history. It includes intriguing elements such as art heists, fake deals, undercover subterfuge, and an insider’s view of the FBI. I flew through it. One of the most touching scenes in the book is the retrieval of the American Civil War battle flag from one of the first African American regiments to fight for the Union.

Wittman’s account gives a glimpse of the what the FBI is like, from the recognition and accolades when they resolve a high-profile case to the bureaucracy, turf wars, and personality conflicts. Wittman’s story was captivating, especially the details of his undercover work, how he gains the criminals’ confidence, appeals to their greed, and eventually obtains the necessary evidence needed to arrest them and recover the artwork. My only issue with it is the colloquial writing style (lots of discussion of facts and food). Recommended to those interested in art history, the FBI, or true crime. ...more
3

Aug 22, 2012

Somehow, I knew that art thieves were not all really like Pierce Brosnon's Thomas Crowne, hiding Picasso's in his mane of chest hair, or like Catherine Zeta Jones getting her freak on with laser alarms. Yet, I wanted to believe that they were like that. But, "Priceless" serves to put those rumors to rest. A tell-all about the art crime industry from the FBI's pioneer in the field, the book shares tale after tale of the tawdry, seedy, and even boneheadedly simple and very un-Pierce-like world of Somehow, I knew that art thieves were not all really like Pierce Brosnon's Thomas Crowne, hiding Picasso's in his mane of chest hair, or like Catherine Zeta Jones getting her freak on with laser alarms. Yet, I wanted to believe that they were like that. But, "Priceless" serves to put those rumors to rest. A tell-all about the art crime industry from the FBI's pioneer in the field, the book shares tale after tale of the tawdry, seedy, and even boneheadedly simple and very un-Pierce-like world of art thieves. To me, the whole concept of art crime being considered as almost a fashionable and less threatening crime despite the cowardly looting of truly priceless objects is quite fascinating. And it is a theme that the author also keeps harping on. The stories do get a bit bogged down in the telling however. So many of the investigations tend to run into each other and share many of the same basic concepts that the reader can get a bit lost. Though he isn't the world's best story-teller, Wittman does have a pretty amazing story to tell. ...more
2

Mar 07, 2011

The content is interesting, even very interesting. The way he tells it is not. Not only is his writing dull, but it drove me crazy that he makes himself out to be the best thing to happen to the FBI since, well, the X-Files. (Personal opinion, of course - not everyone likes the X-Files.) But, seriously, man, bring the ego down a notch.
1

August 23, 2011

Disappointed
I thought this sounded like an interesting book. I even got the Sample and read it before purchasing it and it seemed like it'd be a good read. I am really disappointed the parts after the Sample are not the same. He gives way too much history and too much details, it's mind numbing to read. I started skipping pages and trying to find another interesting part and would start reading again at a new chapter but it's just more monotony.
2

September 8, 2011

Defensive and insidery, but beautifully descriptive
The best scenes in _Priceless_ are those in which Wittman describes the experiences of learning about art and of interacting with the strange and manic personalities of people in the art scene. I loved his discussions of learning about art and art history at the (always restricted, now closed) Barnes Foundation outside Philadelphia. Wittman and his cowriter are expert describers, conveying painterly strokes and facial twitches with equal elan. His description of the gray market for Civil War relics is especially vivid in its characterizations of both its objets and its players.

Where this memoir loses me is in its inside baseball quality: Wittman has several scores to settle with the FBI and the international art crime apparatus, and a seemingly disproportionate part of his memoir is concerned with letting his readers know exactly which station chief or international agency thwarted this or that daring plan to solve a long-unsettled heist.

Considered as a memoir, it makes sense that Wittman spends several dozen pages re-defending himself against the (eventually overturned) charge of drunk driving that killed a fellow agent; however, for the reader more interested in the art and crime this reads like an overly self-defensive explanation of a subject on which, as readers, we are never especially inclined to doubt him. Indeed, this portion of the narrative has a "protest too much" quality to it.

Indeed, the book seems incomplete both as a memoir and as an art crimes narrative. Although Wittman describes his parents' formative influence on his interest in art and antiquities, we never get a full picture of his parents' personalities or his father's interest in Japanese cultural artifacts. Wittman's family is clearly a fascinating story in its own right, and one readers miss out on in this book.

For me, this book tipped too far into the personal and defensive to be as interesting as its subject promised; however, if you are interested in a 50-50 mix of inside-the-FBI politics and art heist investigations, this will be the perfect book for you.
5

May 24, 2010

What a life Wittman lived as an undercover FBI agent hunting down stolen treasures. I ‘m amazed he was able to use the same undercover name for twenty years without the bad guys catching up with him. I’d assumed the art theft underworld was fairly small and maybe it is for criminals with some art knowledge but they mostly seem to be inept bumblers who see an opportunity and take it. So many museums are under secured it’s a shame. In the end it was interconnectedness of the criminals and the What a life Wittman lived as an undercover FBI agent hunting down stolen treasures. I ‘m amazed he was able to use the same undercover name for twenty years without the bad guys catching up with him. I’d assumed the art theft underworld was fairly small and maybe it is for criminals with some art knowledge but they mostly seem to be inept bumblers who see an opportunity and take it. So many museums are under secured it’s a shame. In the end it was interconnectedness of the criminals and the agents that ended Wittman’s government career, that and governmental bureaucracy both at home and abroad. It’s an old boys club filled with one upsmanship. What a shame especially since the final chapters hold out glimmers of hope of finding the Vermeer and Rembrandt stolen from the Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. It was wrenching to hear one of the other Gardner paintings described as being badly damaged. Though I wish there was better news on the Gardner front that in no way takes away from the many other lovely things Wittman was able to retrieve in fact his descriptive art insider’s information made this book for me. For me this is one of the best art crime books I’ve read in years. ...more
3

Feb 16, 2011

This book almost feels bipolar. At times, it is a very good book about the stealing of art. Other times, it is a personal story about an FBI agent.

Sadly, the personal story is really boring and amounts to digressions that really, really take too long. While Wittman's background is told quickly, when he joins the FBI he seems to spend too much time that on things that have nothing to do with the title. While one particular event is important because it impacts him, other events aren't essential This book almost feels bipolar. At times, it is a very good book about the stealing of art. Other times, it is a personal story about an FBI agent.

Sadly, the personal story is really boring and amounts to digressions that really, really take too long. While Wittman's background is told quickly, when he joins the FBI he seems to spend too much time that on things that have nothing to do with the title. While one particular event is important because it impacts him, other events aren't essential and get overblown.

And it also seems as if he is tooting his horn a bit too much. Though in all fairness, it is a first person narrative. It's hard not to.

Towards the end, Wittman has to deal with red tape and this slows the pacing done.

However, I am very glad I read it. ...more
4

Feb 25, 2012

I've always wanted to be a secret agent but never could identify with law-enforcement types. Confessing his "odd man out" status within the ranks of his peers, Bob Wittman's deep reverence for the sacred objects of art and culture bound our souls together from the first pages. His willingness to go deep underground and risk his life to save a single "priceless" work is truly heroic. Naturally I gobbled up all the juicy pointers peppered along the way (always use your real first name, never use a I've always wanted to be a secret agent but never could identify with law-enforcement types. Confessing his "odd man out" status within the ranks of his peers, Bob Wittman's deep reverence for the sacred objects of art and culture bound our souls together from the first pages. His willingness to go deep underground and risk his life to save a single "priceless" work is truly heroic. Naturally I gobbled up all the juicy pointers peppered along the way (always use your real first name, never use a credit card or ask for a receipt), but the adrenalin rush of these adventures was compounded by how much of eternal value was at stake with each case. That I got to see it all through the eyes of a man I can so unabashedly admire was the real treasure. Read this book! ...more
4

May 06, 2015

This was a very fascinating read. It catalogues the career of the ONLY full time Art theft agent. Over his career he recovered Geronimo's headrest, an 800 year old piece of armor and even an original Bill Of Rights missing for over a hundred years. All total the value of his recovered art is well over 250 MILLION DOLLARS. It was written very well and was actually quite entertaining.
5

Apr 16, 2010

In this stunning autobiography, former FBI undercover agent Robert K. Wittman details his 20-year career investigating the murky world of art theft. Adopting the false but carefully documented identity of Bob Clay, a shady art dealer with a taste for contraband, Wittman successfully infiltrated domestic and international criminal networks to recover more than $225 million worth of stolen cultural property — items ranging from a Rembrandt self-portrait to an original copy of the U.S. Bill of In this stunning autobiography, former FBI undercover agent Robert K. Wittman details his 20-year career investigating the murky world of art theft. Adopting the false but carefully documented identity of Bob Clay, a shady art dealer with a taste for contraband, Wittman successfully infiltrated domestic and international criminal networks to recover more than $225 million worth of stolen cultural property — items ranging from a Rembrandt self-portrait to an original copy of the U.S. Bill of Rights.

Wittman also came closer than anyone else in the world to unraveling the mysterious 1990 robbery at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. His encounters with criminals closely associated with the theft make for some of the most riveting chapters in the book, providing new and surprising information about the heist and the probable whereabouts of the Gardner's missing Rembrandt and Vermeer...

The rest of my review is available online here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html...
...more
5

July 13, 2018

A Coward Has No Scar ...
Robert Wittman, with aide of John Shiffman, weaves a very detailed memoir that is captivating and incredibly informative. This is a must read for anyone interested the FBI's development and interest in recovering stolen art over the decades.

Often times people take jobs in the public sector, spend a lifetime providing service and then retire. Everyone can say they left a mark in their own field and implemented changes that made the job for the next person more fluid, simpler or more efficient, but not everyone can say what Wittman has done. Robert Wittman through good fortune and solid investigative work and 'proper salesmanship' in the field slowly built a career not only for himself but a place for others to hopefully follow.

Bob Wittman, AKA Bob Clay, undercover Art Dealer for an 'unnamed client' with a hefty checkbook, spent twenty years chasing down leads, setting up meetings in out-of-the-way darkened places, stings and apprehending a long list of people who ventured into Art Crime. Some were dangerous, others were probably more vacuous and obnoxious than dangerous, but still trouble all the same.

The best part of the story that unfolds is learning that at one point the FBI gave Bob the leeway needed to see these cases through, recapture lost art and artifacts and take the lead with other Agents to generate success recovering paintings, lost swords, stolen battleflags and other antiquities. The worst part is learning by the end of the book that, like with all bureaucracies who become obsessed with core issues, the FBI supposedly lost interest in drafting a line item budget in their annual reserve policies for Bob's Art Crime Department. Perhaps if more money had been spent on the West Coast, Marion True would've been shut down years prior over at the Getty Center in Los Angeles … but that's another story.

In reading the reviews, yes, I always do … I can see that Bob is unfairly taking a lot of flak for a portion of his writing style. Some readers come away a little turned off by what appears to be an oversized ego, but the truth is that when you're the first person to do something, anything you say is likely to come off that way. While Bob wasn't necessarily the first person to come along and do what he did with the FBI, he was likely the first to make a distinguished career out of it, go undercover and build an interest with FBI so they would create entire Departments which then made it able to frame the FBI in a favourable light for the recoveries. Bob Wittman does write a lot of “I did this” and “I did that” sentences, but having to protect other agents parts in cases is a part of it and the material should be read with such consideration.

Some people never see the value in history or in art, but will quickly sign the permission slip to let their kids visit a museum for a field trip outing with their elementary school. Common sense can skip a generation (sometimes two) and that's okay. A good number of people understand the significance of what art and antiquities hold, and what it means about our own past.

Bob Wittman's narrative of his case files make for good reading, thoughtful consideration and a warning to ne'er-do-wells who think ripping priceless art off the walls of sleepy half-forgotten museums can be profitable. Nine times out of ten you're likely going to be reselling the works to an undercover agent. So, the real lesson is clear – unless you're going to hang the stuff in your own two story home to look at and tell your neighbors it's a fake, decade after decade – don't even think about it.

Five Stars. Many thanks to the author for a lifetime of dedicated service as well.
3

Dec 21, 2012

As someone who enjoys crime fiction, I thought it would be fun to read some crime NON-fiction, and possibly learn a few things. While this book was vague on a few details on the inner workings of the FBI, it was highly informative, both about art heists and government bureaucracy.

Bob Wittman began his career with the FBI without any law enforcement experience, but his job history and personal interests gave him some unique skills that came in handy. When he first joined the bureau, art theft As someone who enjoys crime fiction, I thought it would be fun to read some crime NON-fiction, and possibly learn a few things. While this book was vague on a few details on the inner workings of the FBI, it was highly informative, both about art heists and government bureaucracy.

Bob Wittman began his career with the FBI without any law enforcement experience, but his job history and personal interests gave him some unique skills that came in handy. When he first joined the bureau, art theft was barely even considered a crime, but over the course of 20 years, Wittman brought about some changes. In the end, the lumbering inefficiencies and petty egos of the bureaucracy came shining through, though.

This book chronicles Wittman’s early years in the FBI and then goes on to tell the fascinating tales of several lost and then recovered works of art. He begins with the artwork’s history, details its theft, and then goes on to describe how he helped get it back. One fascinating sidenote was information on differing police procedures in other countries, and how American agents work with them. Though not terribly in-depth in many places, it provided a decent overview and did educate me enough about art theft to know that, unsurprisingly, Hollywood almost always gets it wrong.
...more
5

Jun 12, 2011

You don't have to be an art connoisseur or even much of an art fan to appreciate this book. Here, Robert Wittman, now retired from the FBI, relates how he made a career of tracking down and recovering stolen art and artifacts. He recovered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of important historical artifacts and art through his career. Some highlights include the recovery of the 14th Bill of Rights, which was stolen during the Civil War; uncovering and exposing the scandel connected with two You don't have to be an art connoisseur or even much of an art fan to appreciate this book. Here, Robert Wittman, now retired from the FBI, relates how he made a career of tracking down and recovering stolen art and artifacts. He recovered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of important historical artifacts and art through his career. Some highlights include the recovery of the 14th Bill of Rights, which was stolen during the Civil War; uncovering and exposing the scandel connected with two shady dealers on Antiques Roadshow; and the recovery of more than $2 million in Revolutionary and Civil War era relics stolen from a Philadelphia museum. The story is fast-paced and straightforward; Wittman finds the right balance of giving just enough history behind the pieces and the thefts without it coming across as a lengthy arts and history lecture. His stories on what he has to do to infiltrate the less seemly side of society are fascinating and, at times, intense. This is a must-read for true crime and history fans. ...more
4

Dec 26, 2010

This was a fascinating and compelling read. Written by and about a retired FBI agent who spent 20 years working undercover to catch thieves and recover works of art worth millions, the cases he outlines are varied and sometimes practically unbelievable. Wittman did an excellent job of educating the reader about the history and value of the artifacts he recovered, without making it feel like reading a textbook. He also has no difficulty describing some of the bureaucratic frustrations he faced This was a fascinating and compelling read. Written by and about a retired FBI agent who spent 20 years working undercover to catch thieves and recover works of art worth millions, the cases he outlines are varied and sometimes practically unbelievable. Wittman did an excellent job of educating the reader about the history and value of the artifacts he recovered, without making it feel like reading a textbook. He also has no difficulty describing some of the bureaucratic frustrations he faced within the FBI. Overall, a great read and a nice shift from the types of books I read most often. ...more
4

Feb 15, 2018

Absolutely fascinating! Behind the scenes insight into the secret world of art and antique crime. The book keeps you on the edge of your seat as you follow an undercover FBI agent throughout his career. All I can think is that I would love to have a beer with Bob & just listen to more stories he has. Definitely recommended.
4

Dec 26, 2011

What can i say, i'm a sucker for books about art fraud. this book is really interesting,not just because of the stories he tells but also because it's well-written. Each chapter could have been a book on its own.

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