Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman – Priceless

The Wall Street Journal called him a living legend. The London Times dubbed him the most famous art detective in the world.

In Priceless, Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBIs Art Crime Team, pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career for the first time, offering a real-life international thriller to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.

Rising from humble roots as the son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a 20-year career that was nothing short of extraordinary. He went undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid.

In this compelling memoir, Wittman fascinates with the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities: 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. The rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nations first African-American regiments.

The breadth of Wittmans exploits is unmatched: He traveled the world to rescue paintings by Rockwell and Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and Picasso, often working undercover overseas at the whim of foreign governments. Closer to home, he recovered an original copy of the Bill of Rights and cracked the scam that rocked the PBS series Antiques Roadshow.

By the FBIs accounting, Wittman saved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art and antiquities. He says the statistic isnt important. After all, whos to say what is worth more – a Rembrandt self-portrait or an American flag carried into battle? They’re both priceless.

In his final case, Wittman called on every bit of knowledge and experience in his arsenal to take on his greatest challenge: working undercover to track the vicious criminals behind what might be the most audacious art theft of all.

Author: Robert K. Wittman, John Shiffman
Narrator: Mark Deakins
Duration: 9 hours 31 minutes
Released: 10 Jan 2006
Publisher: Random House Audio
Language: English

User Review:

fuselage descending

I heard an interview with the author on the radio and that’s why I decided to download this book. Robert Wittman was an engaging guest with a unique accent, discussing a world most of us are not privy to. I think the format of the book and the stories themselves were interesting and what you would expect after reading the description. However, the narrator gave a bland, monotone reading of the book. His attempts at accents were okay at best. There was little variation in expression, which made it difficult to focus on the story… my mind would wander a bit thinking about art or some tangent and I would have to “rewind” my iPod. I would recommend reading the book instead of listening to this rendition.