29th Annual Thompson Lecture

Protecting the Priceless: History in Peril!

October 15  •  6:00p  •  FIA Theater

Guest Lecturer: Robert K. Wittman

The Devil’s Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich (Harper; Hardcover) by New York Times bestselling author Robert K. Wittman chronicles Wittman’s dramatic 2013 recovery of the long-lost private diary of Alfred Rosenberg, who, as the Nazi Party’s chief ideologue, laid the philosophical foundations for the Holocaust. The diary had been lost for more than 60 years. Rosenberg is known as the man who made Hitler into Hitler. The book mines the diary’s long-hidden contents to create a groundbreaking, page-turning account of the Nazi rise to power, the Final Solution, and Germany’s brutal occupation of the Soviet Union. 

Wittman discusses his new book and the importance of the protection and recovery of manuscripts and lost artworks. Known in some circles as the FBI’s real Indiana Jones, Wittman has recovered more than $300 million in lost and stolen artwork and cultural property. He chronicles many of these thrilling recoveries in “Protecting the Priceless: History in Peril!”

Wittman joined the FBI as a Special Agent in 1988. He served as the agency’s investigative expert involving cultural property crime. Because of his unique experience, Wittman coauthored the FBI Cultural Property Investigative Manual in 2001. In 2005, he created the FBI’s rapid deployment national Art Crime Team (ACT). Wittman has conducted investigations across the globe and instructed international police and museums in recovery and use of high-asset value security techniques. He has written two books, including the best seller The Devil’s Diary, and been featured on the History Chanel. Wittman is president of Robert Wittman Inc., which specializes in consulting in art matters, including expert witness testimony, investigation, and collection management.

The Thompson Lecture was established in 1991 by Dr. and Mrs. Jack W. Thompson to enable the Flint Institute of Arts to present a distinguished speaker in the arts or humanities each year. The Thompson Lecture is one of the Institute’s few members-only events and was established, in part, to attract new members to the FIA.