Monday, December 15, 2008

"It's about saving the cultural property of mankind" (UPDATED)

The BBC News on retired FBI Art Crime Special Agent Bob Wittman. "For nearly two decades, usually masquerading as a crooked art dealer with links to the Mafia or the Colombian drug cartels, he has run undercover sting operations, luring criminals into selling him stolen works of art" -- but now he's "forging a new career as a private art-security consultant."

Some interesting numbers:

"The FBI's Art Crime Team has 12 agents spread across the United States. Scotland Yard has four detectives - France has 30. Not surprisingly, in view of its vast cultural patrimony, Italy boasts the world's biggest team - 300 art-hunting Carabinieri, including agents who use helicopters to patrol the country's myriad archaeological sites."

UPDATE: More on Wittman from NPR today.