By Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman
The Wall road magazine called him “a dwelling legend.” The London instances dubbed him “the most renowned artwork detective within the world.”
In Priceless, Robert ok. Wittman, the founding father of the FBI’s artwork Crime staff, pulls again the curtain on his impressive profession for the 1st time, delivering a real-life overseas mystery to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.
Rising from humble roots because the son of an vintage broker, Wittman equipped a twenty-year profession that was once not anything wanting 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 worthwhile artwork and antiquities: The golden armor of an historical Peruvian warrior king. The Rodin sculpture that encouraged the Impressionist flow. 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 area to rescue work by way of Rockwell and Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and Picasso, usually operating undercover out of the country on the whim of overseas governments. towards domestic, he recovered an unique replica 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 artwork and antiquities. He says the statistic isn’t very important. finally, who’s to claim what's worthy extra --a Rembrandt self-portrait or an American flag carried into conflict? They're either priceless.
The paintings thieves and scammers Wittman stuck run the gamut from wealthy to negative, clever to silly, prepared 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 couple of additional greenbacks, figuring nobody may omit what he’d filched.
In his ultimate case, Wittman referred to as on each piece of information and adventure in his arsenal to tackle his maximum problem: operating undercover to trace the vicious criminals in the back of what will be the main audacious artwork robbery of all.
Read Online 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
Easy choice. ” We shook hands. There was one more test—the FBI’s physical training test, a complexly scored series of exercises—running, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups. I was thirty-two years old, and had to train to pass. That summer, every evening after work, I hit the local track. The whole family joined me, Donna pushing baby Jeffrey in an umbrella stroller as toddler Kevin ran behind her. I passed and won entrance to the FBI Academy. On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend 1988, we drove to Donna’s parents’ home on the Chesapeake Bay to celebrate Kevin’s fourth birthday and my entrance into the FBI.
I found his odd presence a distraction, an unnecessary ingredient that threatened to spook the savvy Sunny and Laurenz. The FBI supervisors in Miami and Paris were better than the one in Boston, but not by much. The Miami agents seemed more comfortable chasing kilos of cocaine than a bunch of fancy paintings, and dreamed of enticing Sunny into a drug deal, creating yet another distraction. The FBI’s liaison in Paris was too focused on keeping his French police counterparts satisfied, and knew they would be happy only if the arrests occurred in France, where they could make a big splash.
We were newcomers, having moved from my mother’s native Tokyo to my father’s Baltimore a few years earlier. S. air base, where Mom was a clerk. They married in 1953 and my older brother, Bill, was born the same year. I was born in Tokyo two years later. We inherited my mom’s almond eyes and thin build, and my father’s Caucasian complexion and wide smile. Mom didn’t speak English well, and this isolated her, slowing her assimilation in the United States. She remained mystified by basic American customs, such as the birthday cake.