Art of Aging: Retirement hobbies

WPVI logo
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Art of Aging: Retirement hobbies
EMBED <>More Videos

Meet a senior who has found a way to continue his lifelong love of history and mystery in his retirement years.

Meet a senior who has found a way to continue his lifelong love of history and mystery in his retirement years.

For 20 years, 61-year-old Robert Wittman worked for the FBI creating the agency's Art Crime Team which specializes in recovering stolen antiques and collectibles.

Wittman was an Art Theft Investigator.

He said, "I recovered more than $300,000,000 worth of stolen art and cultural property. Everything from pre-Columbian artifacts that were thousands of years old to Rembrandt self-portraits, to Goya paintings to sculptures."

He was based in Philadelphia but his sleuthing took him undercover around the world, and brought him immense satisfaction.

"Every time you do it, it's like a Eureka moment," said Wittman.

So when it came time to retire in 2008, Wittman started his own company and continued his cloak and dagger lifestyle.

He is President of Robert Wittman, Incorporated.

"I get to do it at my own pace, and how fast I want to do it," he said.

But he's found his golden years are even busier.

Wittman says, "At the time I was at the FBI, I would probably have a caseload of maybe 10 to 15 cases. I'd be working all the time. Today my work load has expanded to the point where I probably have 50 cases that I have open at any given time."

One of his most memorable involved a very important American artifact.

"We actually got a call that was from an individual who was trying to sell the actual copy of the Bill of Rights," said Wittman.

It was one of the original 13 copies valued today at $100 million.

But its role in American history makes it priceless which is also the title of an adventure-filled memoir Wittman penned about his pursuits of pilfered treasures.

He also recovered what's known as The Devil's Diary.

"It was a diary of Alfred Rosenberg who was a chief civil scientist and philosopher for Adolph Hitler," said Wittman.

He turned that case into another book, now available In 26 languages, and Wittman has earned the reputation as one of the world's leading authorities in art theft and fraud.

"Some people are in pursuit of profits. Other people you know they pursue power. But me, I like to chase the history," said Wittman.