chasing thieves and detectives through the secret world of stolen art

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Joshua Knelman
Title: Hot art : chasing thieves and detectives through the secret world of stolen art
This book gives a fascinating introduction to the subject of art theft and the shadowy world that surrounds it. Despite what one may assume, the police have little in the way of resources to solve these crimes, and the art owners and dealers seem to haven even less in the way of desire to fight the crooks. Why? One word – money. Lots and lots of money. Although this may seem counterintuitive, read this book and it will start to make sense.

Priceless : how I went undercover to rescue the world’s stolen treasures

From Catherine Givens
author: Wittman, Robert K.
Priceless : how I went undercover to rescue the world’s stolen treasures
The new book, “Priceless”, by Robert K. Wittman is a fascinating memoir set in the dark world of art thievery and the black market.  Wittman, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, founded the Bureau’s chronically understaffed Art Crime Team.  Most FBI personnel, he explains, place a lower priority on the nabbing of art thieves, compared to the capturing of drug dealers and bank robbers.  Meanwhile, deeply appreciative of the cultural significance of art, he immerses himself in the study of Art History, to sharpen his ability to act the part of an astute art dealer.

He colorfully relates the conflicts that arise when agents whose values
differ are pitted against each other by bureaucratic hierarchies.  With
grace and wisdom, and a highly experienced eye on the prize, Wittman
navigates these obstacles, transcending would-be blockades to repeatedly recover the loot.

Time and again precious paintings and cultural artifacts, both domestic and international, are handed over by clueless crooks to undercover agents, as well as to Wittman.  The effort expended by all the undercover law enforcement players is awe-inspiring.  Meanwhile, the fact that our government places so little value on and assigns so few people to the recovery of stolen art is shocking.  And it explains why art thieves and unscrupulous dealers abound, displaying increasing levels of audacity.

 Full of action and suspense, this fast-paced book is bursting with
bigger-than-life villains, dumb and dumber criminals and unassuming heroes. It would make a fantastic movie.  But I highly recommend the book:  The author’s heartfelt revelations of his inner thoughts as he strives to return art to its rightful owners keep us rooting for him all the way.