Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures” as Want to Read:
Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  7,897 Ratings  ·  639 Reviews
Robert K. Wittman não era um agente do FBI vulgar. Em vez de perseguir terroristas ou desmascarar traficantes de droga e mafiosos, especializou-se em roubos de arte. Ao longo de mais de vinte anos, Wittman recuperou obras de arte e artefactos históricos de valor superior a 225 milhões de dólares em operações sob disfarce em todo o mundo. Nestas memórias relata como planeou ...more
Hardcover, 324 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Crown
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Priceless, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Samuel I agree with Jessia Laddaga, I think this book is appropriate for high schoolers - furthermore, it is a captivating read, full of the stuff of movies.
The Lover's Portrait by Jennifer S. AldersonThe Art Forger by B.A. ShapiroVanished Smile by R.A. ScottiThe Rape of Europa by Lynn H. NicholasThe Forger's Spell by Edward Dolnick
Art Fraud And Theft
190 books — 147 voters
The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. NicholasThe Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie  O'ConnorThe Forger's Spell by Edward DolnickPriceless by Robert K. WittmanThe Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick
Art Crime
42 books — 55 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Undercover work is like chess. You need to master your subject and stay one or two moves ahead of your opponent.....It's all about understanding human nature--winning a person's trust and then taking advantage of it. You befriend, then betray."

Robert Wittman's memoir of his twenty years as an art detective for the FBI was fascinating. He traveled around the world recovering hundreds of millions of dollars of stolen art. The author points out that a part of our history and our culture is lost wh
Joy D
Robert Wittman’s memoir about his 20-year career as an FBI agent specializing in art and cultural history crimes. He traveled internationally and worked with other countries’ law enforcement agencies to recover stolen art and antiquities, such as Geronimo’s war bonnet, North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, a Rembrandt self-portrait, a Peruvian golden backflap (from a suit of armor), and more. The book takes each case, examines the history of the stolen property, and details the covert wor ...more
May 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a life Wittman lived as an undercover FBI agent hunting down stolen treasures. I ‘m amazed he was able to use the same undercover name for twenty years without the bad guys catching up with him. I’d assumed the art theft underworld was fairly small and maybe it is for criminals with some art knowledge but they mostly seem to be inept bumblers who see an opportunity and take it. So many museums are under secured it’s a shame. In the end it was interconnectedness of the criminals and the agen ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Somehow, I knew that art thieves were not all really like Pierce Brosnon's Thomas Crowne, hiding Picasso's in his mane of chest hair, or like Catherine Zeta Jones getting her freak on with laser alarms. Yet, I wanted to believe that they were like that. But, "Priceless" serves to put those rumors to rest. A tell-all about the art crime industry from the FBI's pioneer in the field, the book shares tale after tale of the tawdry, seedy, and even boneheadedly simple and very un-Pierce-like world of ...more
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I've always wanted to be a secret agent but never could identify with law-enforcement types. Confessing his "odd man out" status within the ranks of his peers, Bob Wittman's deep reverence for the sacred objects of art and culture bound our souls together from the first pages. His willingness to go deep underground and risk his life to save a single "priceless" work is truly heroic. Naturally I gobbled up all the juicy pointers peppered along the way (always use your real first name, never use a ...more
Jonathan Lopez
Apr 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, art-history, memoirs, fun
In this stunning autobiography, former FBI undercover agent Robert K. Wittman details his 20-year career investigating the murky world of art theft. Adopting the false but carefully documented identity of Bob Clay, a shady art dealer with a taste for contraband, Wittman successfully infiltrated domestic and international criminal networks to recover more than $225 million worth of stolen cultural property — items ranging from a Rembrandt self-portrait to an original copy of the U.S. Bill of Righ ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a very fascinating read. It catalogues the career of the ONLY full time Art theft agent. Over his career he recovered Geronimo's headrest, an 800 year old piece of armor and even an original Bill Of Rights missing for over a hundred years. All total the value of his recovered art is well over 250 MILLION DOLLARS. It was written very well and was actually quite entertaining.
The content is interesting, even very interesting. The way he tells it is not. Not only is his writing dull, but it drove me crazy that he makes himself out to be the best thing to happen to the FBI since, well, the X-Files. (Personal opinion, of course - not everyone likes the X-Files.) But, seriously, man, bring the ego down a notch.
Kara Jorges
Dec 21, 2012 rated it liked it
As someone who enjoys crime fiction, I thought it would be fun to read some crime NON-fiction, and possibly learn a few things. While this book was vague on a few details on the inner workings of the FBI, it was highly informative, both about art heists and government bureaucracy.

Bob Wittman began his career with the FBI without any law enforcement experience, but his job history and personal interests gave him some unique skills that came in handy. When he first joined the bureau, art theft wa
This book almost feels bipolar. At times, it is a very good book about the stealing of art. Other times, it is a personal story about an FBI agent.

Sadly, the personal story is really boring and amounts to digressions that really, really take too long. While Wittman's background is told quickly, when he joins the FBI he seems to spend too much time that on things that have nothing to do with the title. While one particular event is important because it impacts him, other events aren't essential a
Rebecca Curtis
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating and compelling read. Written by and about a retired FBI agent who spent 20 years working undercover to catch thieves and recover works of art worth millions, the cases he outlines are varied and sometimes practically unbelievable. Wittman did an excellent job of educating the reader about the history and value of the artifacts he recovered, without making it feel like reading a textbook. He also has no difficulty describing some of the bureaucratic frustrations he faced wi ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
What can i say, i'm a sucker for books about art fraud. this book is really interesting,not just because of the stories he tells but also because it's well-written. Each chapter could have been a book on its own.
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good balance between biography, true crime, art, and the soul crushing pain of bureaucracy.
Zachary Masino
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really liked this book. An easy read but a fun one. Reminded me of white collar. Liked to see how an agent gets tips and goes undercover and different interesting cases. Made me want to go to Barnes meseum.
Michael Burnam-Fink
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
I am a sucker for a good memoir of crime and justice, and this is one of the best. In his early 30s, Robert Wittman quit a career as an advertising man for an agricultural newsletter to try a hand at his dream job of being an FBI agent. A few chance accidents, like working the 1988 burglary of Rodin's "The Mask of the Man with the Broken Nose" from a Philadelphia museum, lead to his true calling as an art theft expert.

As Wittman writes, art theft thrills us in ways that more ordinary crime (drug
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Another book for the Popsugar Reading Challenge, this was an absolutely fascinating read. Wittman takes you into his world of recovering stolen art, and the many cases he was involved in-I think one of the most interesting ones to me was the Antiques Roadshow scam, as I remember watching that show!
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, memoir, non-fiction
I also posted a very similar review on

Wittman was an FBI agent who ended up specializing in solving art crimes. One difference between dealing with art crime and other property crimes is that with the former the object is unique. Consequently, getting the object back is an important consideration, possibly more important than punishing the criminals.

Most of the book is about Wittman working undercover to retrieve art and arrest the criminals. Typically Wittman posed as someone in

Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Emily by: I think Amanda and my mother both take credit
Shelves: 2012, arts
Years ago, I decided that I wanted to see all of the extant Brueghel paintings--a fun project that has led me to visit some places I otherwise wouldn't have. Online, I've met people who are trying to do the same thing with Vermeer, but nobody new is signing on for that, even though Vermeer has fewer known works, because one of them was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 and no one knows if it will ever be seen again.

This book eventually gets to that case, but it tells many o
A while back, I saw this book listed at Audible while browsing, looked interesting (and I liked the sample), so dropped a credit on it; my library continues to have a long hold queue for the print version, which also influenced that decision.
I liked that the author didn't spend a long time on his background, getting to his FBI career fairly quickly. The accident that killed his first(?) partner takes up a fair amount of time, but can't really be ignored as the aftermath dragged on for years; mo
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Diane, Jan F., Carol, Susan
Recommended to Doreen by: Saw it here???
Former FBI agent Robert Wittman and writer, John Shiffman present an amazing true story of efforts to recover stolen art pieces. Paintings, sculptures, archaeological finds, coin collections, stamps, war relics, and historical documents all fall under this category.

The stories are amazing! Both the cunning and stupidity of art thieves and the fences who sell these items are incredible. The FBI and other world agencies employ elaborate sting operations to recover these stolen pieces. Most art i
Nov 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm a sucker for any book about art theft, so this was a title for me. You'd think, then, that the impressive tales Wittman tells of going undercover and cleverly fooling art thieves at their own con would have been the high points of the book for me. But no--what fascinated me the most is the author's love/hate relationship with the FBI, and the overwhelming sense of disappointment that remains after years of trying to do his good work within its system. Here's a man who went into the FBI think ...more
Linda Lipko
Dec 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
Robert Wittman recovered hundreds of millions of dollars of "priceless" paintings and antiquities. This is his story. It is one of the seedy, murky underbelly of the art world, where lives are lost, where money is exchanged, where, often, those who pilfer the works have little care for what they rob.

One of my top reads this year is The Gardner Heist. Naturally, when I saw this book at the library, I had to read it. I was not disappointed with this suspenseful, well-written story.

Among his many a
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Darra
Shelves: book-club
This was a book club selection that I was not able to read last year, but one that always intrigued, when I found a copy on the shelves at the local library, I had to pick it up. I am glad that I did! This "true life" story is actually almost unbelievable! A normal "everyday joe" - from Baltimore, no less! - becomes entangled in the dangerous world of art crime and over the course of his career rescues millions of dollars of historic art and artifacts from around the world. I found the ...more
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-art
This is the second best of the books I've read about art crime. (Better than The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick, easier to read but not as significant as The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas, and not quite as good but perhaps having broader appeal than The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr). Wittman's adventures as an FBI special agent trying to develop an undercover specialty in recovering priceless art and artifacts (and eventually succeeding)--and trying to help the FBI understand the differe ...more
Jul 12, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was mostly interesting (sometimes dry), but also kind of superficial somehow. I haven't been able to pinpoint it, but the book didn't really seem to give the type of detailed lead up to the recoveries that I expected. It also bounced around a lot in the beginning, foreshadowing and flashing back so that I kept thinking I'd forgotten a character already or missed how one of the side stories ended.

I am not an art aficionado, so it was interesting to learn about the pieces. He never ment
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
Very enjoyable and fascinating read as you get the insider perspective on the world of art crime. He was the FBI's only art crime investigator, and takes you through several cases as he went undercover to lure stolen treasures from their hiding place. Well written, spending most of the time on the cases themselves. Keeps moving right along.

It does beg two questions: the seemingly arbitrary value of the art world's masterpieces, and how art represents both the pride of a nation and the pride of
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of White Collar
Felt like I was reading the autobiography of that FBI agent in the TV series White Collar, but as a richer experience, considering that this is a true story. White Collar is like milk chocolate -- sweet, easy, and fun. Priceless tastes more like dark chocolate -- not so sweet, but meaningful, and as I gained understanding of artifacts and art pieces, it was fun in the end. He often started an FBI story, inserted some geeky background info when the suspense was high, then finished the story of ca ...more
April Helms
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction-crime
You don't have to be an art connoisseur or even much of an art fan to appreciate this book. Here, Robert Wittman, now retired from the FBI, relates how he made a career of tracking down and recovering stolen art and artifacts. He recovered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of important historical artifacts and art through his career. Some highlights include the recovery of the 14th Bill of Rights, which was stolen during the Civil War; uncovering and exposing the scandel connected with two s ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fascinating! Behind the scenes insight into the secret world of art and antique crime. The book keeps you on the edge of your seat as you follow an undercover FBI agent throughout his career. All I can think is that I would love to have a beer with Bob & just listen to more stories he has. Definitely recommended.
Feb 06, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm in the arts for a living, so a book with the subject of just about anything about any aspect of art will fascinate me. I loved the premise of this book--an autobiography of a G-man's career finding stolen art and, ideally, bringing those who stole it to justice--and did enjoy it, but as I was reading it I found myself more interested in the author's description of the nuts-and-bolts of going undercover and of how the FBI works than in the stories of the rescued artworks. It is not a particul ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists
  • Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft
  • Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
  • Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece
  • The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece
  • The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures
  • The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft
  • I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger
  • Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum
  • Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World
  • Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa
  • The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art
  • Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art
  • The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities--From Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums
  • The Devil's Dozen: How Cutting-Edge Forensics Took Down 12 Notorious Serial Killers
  • Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History
  • Old Masters, New World: America's Raid on Europe's Great Pictures
  • The Art of the Heist: Confessions of a Master Thief
“Art thieves steal more than beautiful objects; they steal memories and identities. They steal history.” 2 likes
More quotes…