Monday, July 12, 2010

Missing 'Priceless' Artwork? Call Robert Wittman

In late December 2000, three people armed with machine guns went into the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm and ordered everyone to get down on the floor. For the next 40 minutes, the thieves ran through the museum, taking two Renoir paintings and a 1630 self-portrait by Rembrandt — a painting valued at $36 million.

Simultaneously, two car bombs went off on the main roads leading to the museum, located on a small peninsula in central Stockholm. As the thieves made their getaway in a high-speed boat, police could not access the museum because the highways were completely blocked.

Swedish authorities called in Robert Wittman to help them track down the paintings — and the thieves who stole them. Wittman, who spent 20 years with the FBI, is one of the world's leading authorities on recovering stolen art and cultural property. After founding the FBI's Art Crime Team, he revolutionized the way the bureau tracks down criminals who swipe paintings and antiquities in high-profile heists around the world.

Read an excerpt from the book "Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures"