Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures
By Robert K. Wittman
Crown Publishers, 2010. 324 pgs. Nonfiction
The FBI, surprisingly, spends relatively few resources fighting art crimes, especially when compared to Western European countries. This makes Robert Wittman something of a unique treasure himself as one of the only art crime specialists employed by the FBI. In this memoir, he tells of a number of the undercover operations he worked on to reclaim priceless pieces of art lost to the world when they were stolen from museums or private collectors.
When reading Priceless, I felt that the author hadn’t really decided what kind of a book they were writing. Portions read like an interesting memoir of a man who found himself working his dream job despite personal tragedy and organizational roadblocks, other sections gave pointers on going undercover and how best to deceive a “mark”, and other parts (my personal favorites) presented fascinating stories of famous works of art and the heists responsible for their disappearance. Despite the unclear goal and direction of the narrative, Wittman still manages to provide a fun look into the world of art crimes.