"Who is Robert K. Wittman?"

Here’s what others say

“The most famous art detective in the world.”
The London Times

“Col. Tabel, who investigates art crimes for the French government and followed Mr. Wittman’s chess-like maneuvers throughout [a] 10-month sting, [said,] ‘To me, he is a living legend.’”
Wall Street Journal

“Bob Wittman has been on the frontlines of the war against art crime since 1989. In a distinguished career he has recovered stolen art worth millions, in more than a dozen countries.”

“His feats during his 20-year tenure with the FBI are nearly legendary…. Throughout his career, Wittman has posed as the unprincipled collector, the avaricious mobster, and the reserved professor … He has rescued precious artifacts such as ancient Babylonian seals…and brought back to the public a 2,000-year-old golden Pre-Columbian piece of body armor.”

“Wittman walked with a hundred disguises through the layers of the art theft underground like Dante’s narrator in The Inferno. . . [He] wasn’t sure if they were doing anything to stop looting on the ground, but he detected a steady change among the most established antiquities dealers. Little by little, they were getting cold feet. There was more risk, more liability, and more lawyers.”
Roger Atwood, SAFE 2006 Beacon Award winner, Stealing History

“Bob Wittman is the pioneer in federal law enforcements approach toward art theft investigations and recoveries. He is respected by all in the law enforcement community for all he has done and accomplished. He has also earned the respect and admiration of the international corpus of law enforcement on all continents. Bob leaves behind a legacy for those who follow to acknowledge and admire. The one thing I’ll regret in my career is not having the chance to collaborate with Bob while he was on the job.”
James E. McAndrew, Special Agent with U.S. Department of Homeland Security



Here’s what he says

“I was uniquely positioned to do something about art crime. Here I was, already an FBI agent with a track record of working art crime cases . . . What’s more, I’d worked on my own to become a bit of an expert in several fields . . . I’d studied in classrooms as diverse as flea markets and the Barnes, mastering the nuances of everything from collectibles to fine art . . . My ad-hoc education was complete. I was ready to go undercover, in pursuit of the priceless.”
Robert K. Wittman, Priceless


Here’s what he says about cultural heritage

“It’s not the dollar loss that is so important. It’s the loss of cultural knowledge internationally. When these things are dug out of the ground by looters, whether it’s Iraq or in…South America or in Africa, we lose all the archaeological information of those cultures. So what happens is we lose…the history of us humans, and that’s what we’re trying to stem.”


“The tragedy of art theft,” according to Wittman, is that “we, as a culture, lose our history when someone commits that type of crime. Stealing cars or robbing banks — they don’t carry the cultural impact that will be felt for generations to come as art theft does.”
Antiques and the Arts

“Art and antiquity crime is tolerated, in part, because it is considered a victimless crime.” But in an ode to human creativity that sounds a little odd coming from a federal agent, [Wittman] adds that his view was always different: “Art thieves steal more than beautiful objects; they steal memories and identity. They steal history.”
The New York Times

“I’ve found that I can read up on a stolen artifact, talk to experts about it, even hold it in my hands as the bad guys explain it black market value. But I won’t truly appreciate an object’s deeper meaning until I’m finally able to return it to its rightful owner.”
Robert K. Wittman, Priceless


Here’s what people say about Priceless, his bestselling memoir

“In one riveting sequence after another, Robert Wittman reveals the art world’s underbelly as it has never been seen, through the eyes of an undercover agent whose investigative acumen is matched only by his art-history chops. A true page-turner.”
Benjamin Wallace, New York Times bestselling author of The Billionaire’s Vinegar

“Authoritative and superbly crafted, ‘Priceless’ is absolutely, hands down, the best book ever written on art crime.”
San Francisco Examiner

“Almost every case he recounts has enough intrigue and suspense for a Hollywood screenplay.”
The Washington Post


Here’s how you can meet him

Here’s where you can meet fans of Robert Wittman (Facebook account required).

Find out who he is and how you can join in his fight to save your cultural past.