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FBI Art Crime Unit Uncovers Stolen Treasures

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Take a stroll down the hallways of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and you'll find treasures dating back hundreds of years. What is good art? Why are some pieces more expensive than others?

Some would say the answer is in the eye of the beholder. A team of two agents at the Philadelphia FBI spend their days working to rescue pieces from thieves around the world.

"Every day we get to come in and we get to work these matters and try to get this stuff back for people to see," FBI Special Agent Jake Archer told Eyewitness News.

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Archer is with the Art Crime Team in Philadelphia. He and partner special agent Donald Asper make it their business to find stolen treasures.

"It could be artwork it could be antique guns. It could be things that were used in the Revolutionary War," Special Agent Donald Asper said.

Both special agents took Eyewitness News to an undisclosed cinder block building in the tri state area. Behind the door, they displayed a recently recovered collection.

"We don't know what's going to come in today, tomorrow, or next week," Archer said.

We can't even show you the paintings because of the current investigation, but can tell you six of these paintings were recently found in the Philadelphia area. The agents won't even say how much they are worth, but we know they were stolen in 1988. The case is still active.

Both men cover the eastern half of Pennsylvania. The team's reach is international, recovering millions of dollars of art over the years. They are one of just a few specialists in the entire FBI they work together with a 16 member national team based in Washington D.C. They work together with The Evidence Response Team (ERT) based in Philadelphia.

For more information on FBI Art Crime Team, visit

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