By Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman
The Wall road magazine called him “a residing legend.” The London instances dubbed him “the most famed paintings detective within the world.”
In Priceless, Robert ok. Wittman, the founding father of the FBI’s artwork Crime crew, pulls again the curtain on his extraordinary occupation for the 1st time, supplying a real-life overseas mystery to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.
Rising from humble roots because the son of an old broker, Wittman outfitted a twenty-year occupation that was once not anything in need of amazing. He went undercover, frequently unarmed, to capture paintings thieves, scammers, and black marketplace investors in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid.
In this page-turning memoir, Wittman fascinates with the tales in the back of his recoveries of precious paintings and antiquities: The golden armor of an historic Peruvian warrior king. The Rodin sculpture that encouraged the Impressionist circulate. The headdress Geronimo wore at his ultimate Pow-Wow. The infrequent Civil battle conflict flag carried into conflict by way of one of many nation’s first African-American regiments.
The breadth of Wittman’s exploits is unrivaled: He traveled the realm to rescue work by way of Rockwell and Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and Picasso, usually operating undercover out of the country on the whim of international governments. toward 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 thousands of thousands of greenbacks worthy of paintings and antiquities. He says the statistic isn’t vital. in spite of everything, who’s to assert what's worthy extra --a Rembrandt self-portrait or an American flag carried into conflict? They're either priceless.
The artwork thieves and scammers Wittman stuck run the gamut from wealthy to negative, shrewdpermanent to silly, equipped 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 struggle 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 leave out what he’d filched.
In his ultimate case, Wittman referred to as on every piece of information and event 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.
Read or Download Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures PDF
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Additional info for Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
The flat terrain in front of the Rodin Museum, on the other hand, is far more hospitable. The only barrier between the museum and the parkway is a lovely courtyard anchored by a six-and-a-half-foot-tall cast of the artist’s most famous work, The Thinker. , five minutes before closing time. The winter sun had already set, and the museum was nearly empty. The man wore blue jeans, white sneakers, a dark T-shirt, and a long gray tweed overcoat. His dirty blond hair fell below his shoulders, and the guards at the door figured he was an art student.
He was Italian and went by the nickname Bibi, which was the nineteenth-century French equivalent of Mac or Buddy. “At first I could hardly bear to do it, he seemed so dreadful to me. But while I was working, I discovered that his head really had a wonderful shape, that in his own way he was beautiful…. ” Rodin worked on the piece on and off for eighteen months. He stored it in the stable, which he could not afford to heat, and covered it only with a damp cloth to keep the terra-cotta from drying out.
FOR SECURITY, THE UNITED NATIONS MADE THE reservations as discreetly as possible—one hundred and six rooms in an affluent Italian ski resort at the foot of Western Europe’s tallest peak, Mont Blanc. The International Conference on Organized Crime in Art and Antiquities was timed to span a slow weekend in mid-December, between the Noir Film Festival and the traditional opening of ski season. N. took care of everything. It arranged for flights from six continents, gourmet meals, and transport from airports in Geneva and Milan.