Review of Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman and John Shiffman

This gripping memoir of former FBI Art Crime agent Robert K. Whittman is a thrilling ride into the underbelly of the stolen art market. From the streets of Paris to expensive yachts off the Florida coast, Whittman tracked some of the most sensational stolen art.

Whittman’s career is the vehicle for the book and that alone would be a worthwhile read. Add in criminals, art dealers who knowingly trafficked stolen or illegal goods, a few international mobsters and some of the most notorious art heists and you have one terrific story.

As an art enthusiast, I found the facts of the cases fascinating. As a crime buff, I learned a few new things about art theft and the underworld. As a writer, I enjoyed the intricate twists and turns of the crimes and subsequent investigations. If you’re interested in art or crime or the FBI or police work in general, this book will give you something to keep you interested and you’ll learn a few new things along the way.

If you’ve read The Gardener Heist by Ulrich Boser you have to read this book by Whittman & Shiffman – Whittman was one of the guys who worked on tracking down the paintings that were taken from the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston. There’s even some new information on I.S.G. herself that was interesting because I’ve already read Boser’s book. Together, the two books give a fascinating account of the heist. Boser’s focus was on the crime, and Whittman focused on the effort to recover the paintings.

I devoured this book. I bought it because of the Gardener connection, but the earlier cases were just as interesting and the investigations were fascinating – especially when they involved more than one law-enforcement agency. It’s nice to know bureaucracy is everywhere…

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