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Tag: art theft

European Art Thieves: FBI Made Us Do It

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The perpetrators of a European art heist are accusing the FBI of encouraging them to carry out the plan to steal a Monet, a Sisley and two Breughels., according to the British Daily Mail.

Pierre-Noel Dumarais, the 64-year-old leader of the gang, insists the FBI persuaded them to steal the art, valued at 20 million pounds or more than $31 million in U.S. dollars.

Dumaris had a Colt 45 pistol and hand-grenades when going through with the plan.

FBI agent Robert K. Wittman of Miami, the defense is arguing, worked undercover as a corrupt art dealer and “ordered”  the theft in an attempt to infiltrate French art crime gangs responsible for the theft of American-owned paintings.

“My client’s modus operandi did not start from the premise: let’s steal some paintings then find a buyer. They were a bunch of amateurish stooges some of whom only met on the day of the heist,”  defense attorney Ludovic Depatureaux said, according to the paper. “These canvasses disappeared in order to recover two key paintings belonging to U.S. heritage. I’m not sure that the U.S. would appreciate it if French agents acted likewise.”

Wittman denies the charges. “I don’t think anything I did ‘encouraged’ anyone to obtain Chechen hand grenades and semi automatic pistols in order to commit armed robbery. It is a fanciful defence at best, at worst, it is a defense of desperation used only when criminals are caught,” he said, according to the paper.

To read more click here.

Ex-Philly FBI Agent Bob Wittman Pens Book on Art Thefts

priceless 2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

When it comes to ex-FBI agent Bob Wittman, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Michael Klein put it best: “During his 20 years as a Philly-based FBI special agent, Bob Wittman is credited with recovering nearly a quarter-billion dollars worth of art. That’s a lot of Monet.”

Wittman, who started the FBI’s Art Crime Team, has penned a book “Priceless”, which hits the book stores on Tuesday.

Random House, the publisher of the 336 page book,  describes it this way:

“Rising from humble roots as the son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career that was nothing short of extraordinary. He went undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid.

“In this page-turning memoir, Wittman fascinates with the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities: The golden armor of an ancient Peruvian warrior king. The Rodin sculpture that inspired the Impressionist movement. The headdress Geronimo wore at his final Pow-Wow. The rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments.”

To see the webpage for the  book click here.