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Robert K. Wittman joined the FBI as a Special Agent in 1988 and was assigned to the Philadelphia Field Division. As a result of specialized training in art, antiques, jewelry and gem identification, he served as the FBI’s investigative expert in this field. During his 20 year career with the FBI he recovered more that $225 million worth of stolen art and cultural property resulting in the prosecution and conviction of numerous individuals. In 2005, he was instrumental in the creation of the FBI’s rapid deployment Art Crime Team. He was named as the ACT’s Senior Investigator and instructed the team members in how to conduct cultural property investigations. He has represented the United States around the world conducting investigations and instructing international police and museums in investigation, recovery and security techniques.

Investigative Highlights

*Theft at Pennsbury Manor the historical home of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. First prosecution and convictions under the federal Theft of Major Artwork Statute. Recovery: More than 30 historical items valued at more that $100,000.

*Theft of one of the original 14 copies of the Bill of Rights stolen by a Union Soldier in 1865 Recovery: Valued at $30 million.

*Theft of numerous paintings at a private estate in Madrid, Spain. Recovery: Included 17 paintings including two by Francisco Goya valued at $50 Million.

*Theft from the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm Recovery: Rembrandt’s 1630 “Self-Portrait” valued at $36 million.

*Theft from a private gallery in Minneapolis Recovery: 5 Norman Rockwell paintings worth $1 million from a farmhouse in Brazil.

*Looting of the Royal Tomb of the Lord of Sipan in Peru Recovery: 2,000 year-old golden Pre-Columbian piece of body armor known as a Backflap.

*Recovery of Native American Apache medicine man Geronimo’s eagle feather war bonnet valued at $1.2 million.

*Theft from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1932 of an 1862 Tiffany presentation sword which was awarded to Admiral John Worden, for his heroic command aboard the U.S.S. Monitor during its historic Civil War battle with the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimac), valued at $650,000.

Presentations and Art Community Partnership:

SA Wittman served as a member of the Department of State’s Cultural Antiquities Task Force based in Washington, D.C. He has sought to educate others in the cultural property protection community in techniques on how to avoid becoming a victim of theft or fraud and the importance of prompt reporting. He has been the FBI spokesperson for art theft matters nationally and represented the United States at numerous international conferences regarding cultural property protection.


Awards and Recognitions:

2000 - “Peruvian Order of Merit for Distinguished Service,” presented by the President of Peru.

2001 - “Outstanding Contributions in Law Enforcement Award,” presented by Attorney General John Ashcroft.

2003 - “White Cross of Law Enforcement Merit Medal” by the Spanish National Police.

2004 - “Robert Burke Memorial Award for Excellence in Cultural Property Protection” by the Smithsonian Institution at the National Conference on Cultural Property Protection.