By Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman
The Wall road magazine called him “a residing legend.” The London occasions dubbed him “the most renowned artwork detective within the world.”
In Priceless, Robert ok. Wittman, the founding father of the FBI’s paintings Crime staff, pulls again the curtain on his notable profession for the 1st time, providing a real-life foreign mystery to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.
Rising from humble roots because the son of an vintage broker, Wittman outfitted a twenty-year profession that used to be not anything wanting notable. He went undercover, often unarmed, to trap paintings 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 in the back of his recoveries of important paintings and antiquities: The golden armor of an old 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 via one of many nation’s first African-American regiments.
The breadth of Wittman’s exploits is unequalled: He traveled the realm to rescue work via Rockwell and Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and Picasso, frequently operating undercover abroad on the whim of international 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 countless numbers of hundreds of thousands of greenbacks worthy of artwork and antiquities. He says the statistic isn’t vital. finally, 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 became out to be a high-ranking diplomat. The appraiser who stole numerous heirlooms from warfare heroes’ descendants used to be 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 dollars, figuring nobody could omit what he’d filched.
In his ultimate case, Wittman known as on each piece of data 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 artwork robbery of all.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional info for Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
Funds laundering. highly intelligent, very wealthy. Moved to Florida. large condominium, giant motor vehicle, Rolls-Royce. is familiar with many folks nonetheless, right here in France, Spain, Corsica. ” “Can I belief him? ” The Frenchman laughed. “He is a felony. ” “If he says he can get the Vermeer—” “Let me inform you anything approximately Laurenz,” the cop acknowledged. “I don't imagine he'll mislead you approximately this. Laurenz isn't a con guy. he's an opportunist. He perspectives himself as a businessman, a guy who makes bargains within the area among the black and the white. you recognize? ” “Sure. ” “But this guy Laurenz could be hassle should you try and keep watch over him too much,” Andre stated. “Be sufferer. he'll take you in lots of instructions, yet i believe he'll lead you to what you will have. ” * This replaced in August 2009, lengthy after this situation ended. bankruptcy 21 LAURENZ AND SUNNY Miami. June 19, 2006. LAURENZ didn't DISAPPOINT. weeks once we begun conversing by way of cellphone, I flew to Miami to fulfill him. He took me for a trip in his Rolls, an FBI surveillance group in gradual pursuit. Laurenz wore a salmon Burberry costume blouse with a cursive LC monogram on his breast, blue denims, brown sandals; and a gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. He was once 41 years previous, trim, with short-cropped curly brown hair. “Nice automobile. New? ” I requested simply because I knew the answer—I’d checked his motorized vehicle records—and used to be curious if he’d inform the reality. Laurenz spoke back in truth. “A 12 months previous. i am getting a brand new one each eighteen months. I don’t wish to force a motor vehicle with greater than twenty thousand miles on it. no longer strong for the picture. ” I favorite the cherrywood console, working a finger around the frosted silver lettering, PHANTOM. I stated what he desired to pay attention. “Very great. ” Laurenz nodded. “If it’s more than enough for the Queen…” I laughed, and learned I couldn’t inform if he was once joking. “Her Majesty drives one similar to this,” Laurenz additional. He spoke English fluently, yet with this kind of thick accessory that it occasionally took an additional second for what he stated to sign up. “If you’ve by no means pushed this motor vehicle, you'll by no means know how delicate it's. You pay attention not anything outdoors. You accelerate to seventy and you're feeling not anything. You visit one-ten and you're feeling such as you are riding seventy. every thing is top-quality. The sunroof, the guidance, the brakes. There are DVD gamers in backseat. for a few years, this used to be an outdated motor vehicle for previous humans. however the new ones are terrific. i've got a man who comes each month to do the leather-based. And a boy who washes the automobile each weeks. ” He rapped the window along with his knuckles. “Bulletproof glass. customized armor-plated external. 400 and fifty thousand money. ” “Impressive. ” He sniffed. “That’s the purpose. ” Laurenz urged the Rolls onto the Dolphin freeway, headed west towards the airport. An frustrating pop tune performed at the radio—all synthesizer and falsetto. Laurenz cranked it up. “Good sound, huh? ” I studied Laurenz and needed I’d been wearing a recorder. What my dealing with brokers and supervisors could make of such banter! weeks into the Gardner case and the FBI brokers concerned have been already falling into camps—those who believed Laurenz may be able to carry the stolen Boston work and people who have been skeptical.