Former FBI Agent Talks Art Crime

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- He's known as the FBI's Indiana Jones, but on this day, Robert Wittman is getting a tour of the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University in Lewisburg.

Wittman is here to speak about his career as an undercover agent and founder of the FBI's art crime team.

"I did one involving an artifact in Peru that was stolen from a tomb. It was the largest piece of gold ever recovered in the Americas," Wittman said.

During his career, Wittman helped recover more than $300 million worth of art and cultural property from all over the world. Some of his most memorable investigations include recovering a stolen Rembrandt painting and one of the original 13 copies of the Bill of Rights.

"I always thought it was important to get these pieces back so that we could recover them, have them seen again, have that understanding there for our children and grandchildren," said Wittman.

Wittman founded the FBI art crime team in 2005. It now has more than 15 members.

"Up until then, there was basically nobody except for myself and one other agent in New York," Wittman said.

During his presentation at Bucknell University, Wittman will highlight aspects of the art theft industry and how to protect yourself from fraud.

"We're more used to hearing the artist, so I think it will be a really fresh and insightful view of the art world, and also a different way of looking at law enforcement, too," said Samek Art Museum director Richard Rinehart.

Wittman retired from the FBI in 2008. He now works privately to help recover stolen art.

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