Join one of the most famous art detectives in the world to hear tales from the trenches of his long career solving art crimes with the FBI. Drawing on cases he worked on personally, this seminar explores notorious art heists and daring recovery operations.
This course will draw on cases that have made international headlines from rescuing $50 million worth of Goya and Brueghel paintings in Spain to saving a priceless Rodin in France. Case studies include dramatic rescues of Rembrandts, Renoirs, and even the golden armor of an ancient Peruvian warrior king.
This seminar is a unique opportunity to gain an insider’s knowledge of art crime with a focus on stolen art, frauds, fakes and forgeries.
Art Crime and the FBI: How Masterpieces are Stolen and Recovered
Robert Wittman founded the FBI's National Art Crime Team and served for 20 years as the FBI's investigative expert. He is responsible for recovering more than $300 million in stolen art and cultural property around the world. This first session introduces case studies that have made international headlines including Wittman’s 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.
Frauds, Forgeries, and Fakes
This session uncovers the inside stories of the multi-billion-dollar worldwide business of art crime where frauds, forgeries, and fakes are the largest component.
Drawing on cases he worked on personally during his career in the FBI's National Art Crime Team, Mr. Wittman will share stories and details of famous art forgeries. We'll meet a fake Saudi Sheikh with a fake Rembrandt and find out about a forged contemporary piece by Jean Michele Basquiat. Using visuals and video, we will also dig into a fraud case that rocked PBS's Antiques Road Show years ago. Later, we will learn about legal rulings and protections for art collectors and find out how not to acquire a fake or a forgery!
Documents, Books and Recovering a Lost Nazi Diary
This session chronicles the dramatic recovery in 2013 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 Diary had been lost for more than 60 years.
A game-changing World War II narrative wrapped in a riveting detective story, this lecture explores the history behind this stolen document and discusses the importance of the protection and recovery of priceless manuscripts, rare books, and other documents. Rosenberg is known as the man who made Hitler into Hitler, and the diary’s long-hidden contents give us first-person insight into the Nazi rise to power, the Final Solution, and Germany’s brutal occupation of the Soviet Union.
Looting and Destruction of the World’s Ancient Treasures
This session takes a journey around the world catching and convicting tomb robbers, thieves, looters, and criminals who are the financial engine of the international illicit artifact industry. Wittman lifts the veil of government secrecy about tomb robbers in Peru smuggling through Miami, the recovery of stolen artifacts taken from the Baghdad Museum during the Iraq War, and the destruction of ancient artifacts by ISIS and the Taliban.
Iconic International Art Heists
Is the case ever really closed? Some of the most notorious cases are so complex, they have not yet been solved. This session chronicles art heists and recovery operations in Paris, Madrid, Oslo, and Boston, and discusses collaborations with additional agencies like Scotland Yard and the Norweigan National Police. Wittman will offer behind-the-scenes lessons learned from infamous unsolved case studies including the $500-million-dollar theft from the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston.
Robert K. Wittman
Robert K. Wittman joined the FBI as a Special Agent in 1988. As a result of specialized training in art, antiques, jewelry and gem identification, he served as the FBI’s investigative expert involving cultural property crime. During his 20 year FBI career, he recovered more than $300 million worth of stolen art and cultural property which resulted in numerous prosecutions and convictions. As a result of his unique experience Mr. Wittman coauthored the FBI Cultural Property Investigative Manual in 2001. In 2005, he created the FBI’s rapid deployment national Art Crime Team (ACT). Mr. Wittman has represented the United States throughout the world conducting investigations and instructing international police and museums in recovery and use of high asset value security techniques. In 2010, Mr. Wittman penned his New York Times bestselling memoir PRICELESS: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures. His second book, THE DEVIL’S DIARY: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich is a worldwide bestseller published in 26 languages in 30 countries. Mr. Wittman is now president of Robert Wittman Inc., a consulting firm specializing in art and high value asset matters, which include investigation, recovery, expert witness testimony, and collection management.
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