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FBI Art Sleuth Calling It A Day

A Rembrandt Wittman helped recover

A Rembrandt Wittman helped recover

Robert K. Wittman didn’t surveil terrorists or chase bank robbers for the FBI. He chased down art thieves and helped recover more than a thousand pieces of work. Wittman worked undercover and still does not want to be photographed even though he’s retiring.

By Andrew Maykuth
Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA – Robert K. Wittman, the renowned undercover art sleuth who retired yesterday after 20 years with the FBI, vividly remembers the first art theft he helped solve.
In November 1988, a few days before Wittman arrived in Philadelphia fresh from the FBI Academy, a robber stole a bronze sculpture from the Rodin Museum on the Parkway. Mask of the Man With the Broken Nose was considered Rodin’s first major work.
The thief, an unemployed dancer who Wittman said was “down on his luck,” wrapped the 12-inch bronze in brown paper and hid it beneath a hot-water heater at his mother’s house on Pine Street. That’s where investigators found it a few months later.
“That was the beginning and end of his art career,” said Wittman.
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