The world of high stake, high-profile theft has been glamorized by Hollywood for decades. But what is it actually like? Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures ($15) is a look back on the career of Robert K. Wittman who is the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team and has been dubbed “the most famous art detective in the world” by The London Times.
Written as a memoir, the book documents how he recovered priceless works of art that included among other things: 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, and the rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments. Not familiar with those works? How about paintings by Rockwell, Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and Picasso? Or recovering an original copy of the Bill of Rights?
What he recovered despite being worth hundreds of millions, is far less exciting though than the James Bond meets Robert Langdon methods he used, which is covered in thrilling detail in this book. To keep you in suspense, all we’ll divulge is that it involved unarmed undercover work that certainly is legend inspiring. Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta Jones, Pierce Brosnan, Steve McQueen, Edward Norton, or Robert DeNiro, are not among his pool of victims though.
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