Posted: March 12, 2013

FBI art sleuth speaks at CCU

  Robert Wittman  
Robert K. Wittman, FBI art investigator and author of "Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures," will speak as part of the Explorations Lecture Series on Tuesday, April 2, at 5.30 p.m. in the James J. Johnson Auditorium of Coastal Carolina University's E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration. The event is free and open to the public.

Wittman was a highly decorated special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1988 to 2008 and founded the FBI's Art Crime Team in 2005. His undercover exploits in the seedy world of art crime have led to the recovery of more than $300 million worth of stolen art and cultural property. His cases have forced him to consort with Corsican criminals, Polish pilfers and the descendants of a document-lifting Civil War soldier, just to name a few. These run-ins have uncovered and returned priceless treasures including a Rembrandt self-portrait, Geronimo's eagle feather war bonnet, Goya paintings, pre-Columbian gold, one of the original copies of the Bill of Rights and a 50-pound crystal ball from Beijing's Forbidden City.

Since his retirement in 2008, Wittman has served as a member of the Department of State's Cultural Antiquities Task Force, and he continues to consult with the FBI. He has also instructed insurance companies, institutions and private clients how to locate and safeguard cultural property. Currently, he heads Robert Wittman Inc., a firm dedicated to the security, protection and recovery of art investments.

The New York Times describes Wittman's book, "Priceless" as a "rollicking memoir" that reads "as if an art history textbook got mixed up at the printer with a screenplay for 'The Wire.'" In this lecture, Wittman shares his experience and describes the difficulties agents face in solving these types of cases.

The Explorations Lecture Series is sponsored by the University's Center for Archaeology and Anthropology and the Visual Arts Department of Waccamaw Center for Cultural and Historical Studies at CCU.

For more information, contact Cheryl Ward, director of the Center for Archaeology and Anthropology, at 843-349-6657 or cward@coastal.edu.

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