Robert Wittman
Book Speaker
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Robert Wittman

Fee Range1: $ 4000 - $6000

Former FBI Special Agent, Art Crime


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Robert Wittman

Robert WittmanFormer FBI Special Agent, Art Crime

Rising from humble roots as the son of an antiques dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year law-enforcement career that was nothing short of extraordinary. Armed with a scholar’s passion, a con man’s smile, and a daredevil’s nerves, he worked undercover to catch art thieves, scammers, and black-market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid. By the FBI’s accounting, Wittman saved hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of art and antiquities. He says the statistic isn’t important. After all, who’s to say what is worth more—a Rembrandt self-portrait or an American flag carried into battle? They’re both priceless.

Robert K. Wittman joined the FBI as a Special Agent in 1988 and was assigned to the Philadelphia Field Division. As a result of specialized training in art, antiques, jewelry and gem identification, he served as the FBI’s investigative expert in this field. During his 20 year career with the FBI he recovered more that $300 million worth of stolen art and cultural property resulting in the prosecution and conviction of numerous individuals. In 2005, he was instrumental in the creation of the FBI’s rapid deployment Art Crime Team. He was named as the ACT’s Senior Investigator and instructed the team members in how to conduct cultural property investigations. He has represented the United States around the world conducting investigations and instructing international police and museums in investigation, recovery and security techniques.

Among the cases detailed in his best-selling book Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures are:

• Going undercover in Madrid to extract $50 million worth of Goya and Brueghel paintings from a Spanish mobster
• Catching an appraiser turned con man who used PBS’s Antiques Roadshow to steal countless heirlooms from war heroes’ descendants
• Rescuing the Rodin sculpture that launched the Impressionist movement
• A case that involved three countries, wire taps, Hollywood mobsters, and a trio of punks from Iraq, which resulted in the rescue of two Renoirs and a Rembrandt worth $40 million
• Recovering the golden armor of an ancient Peruvian warrior king
• Saving an original copy of the Bill of Rights that had been believed lost for a hundred years

And in his final case, Wittman called on every bit of knowledge and experience in his arsenal to tackle his greatest challenge: working undercover to track the criminals behind the century’s largest unsolved art crime, the $500-million-dollar theft from the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston. Priceless is a real-life international thriller to rival The Thomas Crown Affair, told by a man who has seen it all . . . and can finally reveal what he knows.

Wittman served as a member of the Department of State’s Cultural Antiquities Task Force based in Washington, D.C. He has sought to educate others in the cultural property protection community in techniques on how to avoid becoming a victim of theft or fraud and the importance of prompt reporting. He has been the FBI spokesperson for art theft matters nationally and represented the United States at numerous international conferences regarding cultural property protection.

In addition to his most requested talk about his undercover work (on which Priceless is based), Mr. Wittman has two additional popular lectures:

The Devil’s Diary

A game-changing World War II narrative wrapped in a riveting detective story, THE DEVIL’S DIARY: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich chronicles Wittman’s dramatic recovery of the long-lost private diary of Alfred Rosenberg, who, as the Nazi Party’s chief ideologue, laid the philosophical foundations for the Holocaust.

The Three F’s of Art Crime: Frauds, Forgeries and Fakes

Robert Wittman founded the FBI’s National Art Crime Team and served for 20 years as the FBI’s investigative expert in this field. He is responsible for recovering more than $300 million in stolen art and cultural property around the world. In “The Three F’s of Art Crime: Frauds, Forgeries and Fakes,” audiences will hear the true stories behind the headlines of the largest and most interesting frauds ever perpetrated in the art and collectible world. From the fraud that almost took down the “Antiques Roadshow” to other daring undercover forgery operations the audience will take the wild ride with the FBI’s Real Indiana Jones.


To book this speaker please visit or call 508.485.8996