This database is for books reported stolen after 15th June 2010. Books reported before this date are, for technical reasons, listed with minimal detail. For fuller information about these items please contact your local ILAB dealer or National Association or ILAB direct. ILAB dealers, please login for full database.
Cette base de données concerne les livres signalés volés depuis le 15 juin 2010. Pour les livres signalés avant cette date, veuillez contacter votre libraire LILA ou Association Nationale. Pour les libraires de la LILA, veuillez vous connecter pour accéder à la base complète.
De Caro and the Girolamini Thefts – Official Note of Protest of ILAB
Since spring of 2012 the issue of the massive thefts in the Girolamini Library and other Italian libraries had kept busy both the Italian Justice as well as ILAB. The latest developments in this case – the arrest of the Danish dealer Christian Westergaard and the confiscation of eleven books out of his stock – gives ILAB no other choice as to announce an official note of protest against the department of investigation. This note of protest will be sent to officials in both the Ministry of Culture of Italy and the Ministry of Justice of Italy, and it will be spread out to librarians, journalists, and the public worldwide.
MEMORANDUM OF ILAB TO THE ITALIAN JUDICIARY
In March 2012 Professor Tomaso Montanari first brought to light a cultural theft, which then appeared to be limited to the Girolamini Library, based in Naples. We now know that the Director of the library at the time, Marino Massimo de Caro, widened his trail in plundering through other libraries in Italy as well: Montecassino, Naples Municipal Library, Ministry of Agriculture Library, a Seminary in Padua, and the Ximines Observatory Library in Florence. Soon after the discovery of the theft the Italian authorities announced that four books from the Girolamini Library were offered in Auction 59 (May 2012) at the Munich Auction House Zisska and Schauer, and arranged for them to be seized by the German police. The auction house thereupon recalled all books from this consignment - a total of 540 titles - and handed them over to the German authorities in Munich, where these books have been stored to this day.
The President of ILAB at the time - Arnoud Gerits - then informed the members of ILAB in an open letter and he immediately offered his assistance and cooperation to the Italian investigating authorities to uncover the truth of this scandal. When Tom Congalton was elected the new President of ILAB in the autumn of 2012, he gave renewed assurances to the Italian authorities of ILAB’s willingness to assist in every conceivable manner to get to the bottom of this case. Both offers, as well as many others made subsequently, went unanswered by the Italian authorities.
On April 8 in 2013, the President of the Italian Association of Antiquarian Booksellers, ALAI, Fabrizio Govi, attempted to relate the criminal route of Marino Massimo de Caro in a speech in the Library of Congress; in the edition of the “The New Yorker” of December 16 in 2013, Nicholas Schmidle described in detail how the former Director of the Girolamini Library was further implicated. Both of these, the speech made by Fabrizio Govi and Nicholas Schmidle’s article, were also brought to the attention of the Italian authorities.
In 2013 the Italian antiquarian bookseller Giuseppe Solmi was arrested by the Italian Carabinieri, and released a short time later. The charge: dealing in books stolen from one of the libraries in which Marino Massimo de Caro was operating. On the 2nd of August of the same year the auctioneer Herbert Schauer was arrested on the strength of a European arrest warrant, and deported to Italy several weeks afterwards. The charge: dealing in books stolen from one of the libraries in which Marino Massimo de Caro was operating and participation in a criminal association. Herbert Schauer was condemned to a five-year prison sentence early this summer, but meanwhile the arrest of Mr. Schauer was lifted by the Italian Court of Cassation.
The latest case in relation to this affair concerns the Danish antiquarian bookseller Christian Westergaard. He was arrested several weeks ago in front of his family. The charge: dealing in books stolen from one of the libraries in which Marino Massimo de Caro was operating. To be sure, Christian Westergaard was released the same day, but the eleven books that had been secured by the Danish police during a mutual assistance procedure remained in safekeeping by the Danish police. The most astonishing thing about the latter case is the fact that all eleven books were also included in the catalogue of Zisska and Schauer's Auction 59 and hence had already been secured by the German authorities since May 2012. For all eleven of the books that had been secured by him, Christian Westergaard was subsequently able to prove when, where and from whom he had acquired them. This includes also books he had acquired from the Macclesfield Auction at Sotheby’s in London (2006ff).
It was only a few days before the start of the first auction of Philobiblon/Bloomsbury (Rome) when the Carabinieri confiscated all lots of the auction by order of the court at Naples. It was suspected that some books of this auction had been stolen from the Girolamini library. The President of ALAI, Fabrizio Govi, appointed two independent experts to check the books, and Mr. Danesi and Mr. Parkin reported that not a single book of the auction could be traced back to an Italian Public Library.
ILAB protests against this unprofessional approach by the Italian authorities in the strongest terms. A simple glance at the lists of the items stored in Munich would have shown straightaway that the books seized in Denmark could not possibly be those volumes that were stolen by Marino Massimo de Caro, nor does it appear to be clear to the investigating authorities that in the vast majority of cases there are naturally a number of copies of printed books, whatever age they may be, that differ in their state of preservation, binding, or provenance.
ILAB further protests against the fact that, through the procedures chosen by the Italian authorities, respectable citizens and business people are falling under suspicion of criminal actions and consequently their reputations are being frivolously compromised. The shock experienced by the families of those arrested under undignified circumstances is also mentioned here for the sake of completion.
ILAB is also protesting against the fact that, as a result of these measures, an entire profession is being stigmatized and might be at risk of losing its credit standing with private and institutional clients, as well as banks, which has taken decades to build up.
ILAB is a long way from giving advice to the Italian judiciary, but we are renewing our offer to the investigating authorities to assist in having these criminal actions thoroughly cleared up and to cooperate unconditionally. By providing you with some expertise required to differentiate between different copies of the same title, we might be able to help prevent a repetition of potentially embarrassing and unnecessary events such as the regrettable arrest of Christian Westergaard. Once again ILAB requests the Italian authorities to provide us with lists of the stolen books which could be included in our stolen books database.
As President of ILAB, I would be happy to meet with the relevant authorities at any time.
Norbert Donhofer, President of ILAB (on behalf of the Committee of ILAB) - August 2014
De Caro and the Girolamini Thefts – A Letter to the Presidents of ILAB's Member Associations
I am very sorry to be the bearer of bad news which are related to the thefts at the Girolamini-Library at Naples and Marino Massimo de Caro.
Christian Westergaard, from Denmark, was arrested some days ago - and later released - for supposedly handling stolen Italian books. The books in question had no immediate Italian provenance (some came from the Macclesfield Library) but were on an Italian list of stolen books, presumably those known to have been stolen by De Caro and his accomplices. Because Christian and other dealers openly list their stock online, it seems that the Italian investigators just matched authors and titles, without reading the detailed notes, or examining the photos on the web, which would have demonstrated that these were not the copies in question. It is also more than curious that all of the eleven books that were confiscated by the Danish Police were titles that had appeared in auction 59 at Zisska & Schauer, Munich, in May of 2012. All of the then withdrawn books– totaling up to 540 – are still kept under lock by the Bavarian Police and that factor was forgotten by the Italian investigators! It may therefore even be that they do not fully understand that these books exist in multiple copies.
It is nowadays known that De Caro had stolen from at least five other libraries: Montecassino, Naples Municipal Library, Ministry of Agriculture Library, a Seminary in Padua, and the Ximines Observatory Library in Florence. It is also known meanwhile that it was not only Italian books he had stolen but valuable books in other languages and printed in other countries as well. We should therefore no longer talk about the “Girolamini-Issue” but the “De Caro-Issue”.
I am also very concerned about a detail some dealers told me. For some time they had been aware that someone had been checking out their online stock; ABEbooks alerts you when someone looks at a description (the auto e-mails say: Someone is interested in one of your books; to find out more click on this ‘link’, and when they did so they would find twenty or so books at a time, with no common denominator, other than they were early sciences and mostly Italian). This had happened several times and it is very likely that this is what they were doing with Christian Westergaard as well.
That would mean that Italian authorities are now checking the online stocks of our affiliates! That could also mean that every dealer handling continental books could be subject to the same criminal charges being brought, which however innocent one may be, is damaging in itself even when subsequently you are found to be innocent. And this also means that the Italian authorities have lists of the stolen items which they have never showed or given us!
ILAB had offered both help and cooperation to clear up these crimes for more than two years, and so did ALAI but up to now all the letters that were sent to the Italian investigators by Fabrizio Govi, Arnoud Gerits, and Tom Congalton have remained unanswered. This situation has become totally unacceptable as Italian authorities do not seem to understand that they are intentionally damaging the reputation of both individual dealers and the whole trade.
I will therefore, on behalf of ILAB, address a note of protest to the Minister of Culture of Italy, Dr. Dario Franceschini, the Minister of Justice, Dr. Andrea Orlando, and the head of investigation, Dr. Antonella Serio. I WILL ALSO REQUEST AGAIN FOR LISTS OF THE STOLEN ITEMS. This note will also be published on our website, on the websites of our members, in relevant magazines, and in newspapers.
I would be pleased if you, dear Presidents, would forward this message to your members!
Norbert Donhofer (ILAB President) - August 2014
The Girolamini Thefts in the Press: August 2013 to January 2014
Click here to find a press review with links to articles and TV features from Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, UK, the United States, Australia and Vietnam
Latest news about the Girolamini Thefts
More than a year has passed since the discovery of the thefts and forgeries of books from the Girolamini Library. According to the judges, the director of the Library, Marino Massimo De Caro was primarily responsible for the thefts. He was arrested and convicted to seven years in prison in the first of several trials that he will have to face. This trial also involved his accomplices. The trial against several booksellers (including 3 ILAB affiliates), who according to the prosecutors have helped him in selling the stolen items, has been postponed to an as yet unspecified date.
ILAB and ALAI are very concerned about two major issues. First of all, the Italian authorities have not or cannot satisfy our repeated requests to provide us with a list of the stolen books, probably because such a list does not appear to exist. As the trial sentence indicated, De Caro himself has confessed to destroying all of the paper catalog cards recording the stolen books, and apparently no other inventory exists. This brings up the prospect that books from the Library may surface on the market for years to come, with little or no warning that they have been stolen. ILAB maintains a database of stolen books but apparently these books seem destined never to be recorded there. We strongly urge our affiliates to perform due diligence when buying books from an unknown source.
The second issue is that apparently the Italian authorities are not concerned with the production of the forgeries that De Caro has disseminated throughout the antiquarian book marketplace, especially in the United States. Our worry is that, if nobody will investigate further in this field, we will never know who physically produced those forged books, how many are still circulating, and, last but not least, how they were manufactured, in order that we might be better able to recognize them in the future. The apparent disinterest in investigating this process brings up the frightening prospect that these forgeries might continue to proliferate and appear on the market long after the authorities are no longer interested in the stolen books themselves.
Fabrizio Govi (ALAI President) - October 2013
Massive Thefts at the Girolamini Library in Naples
Please read the following message carefully: it concerns a massive theft from an important library in Italy. As soon as more information becomes available we will inform you. Committee member Norbert Donhofer and Italian President Fabrizio Govi are working very hard to get all the necessary information, but in the meantime we must advise everyone to be careful and cautious.
Shortly after the reopening of the Girolamini Library in Naples in April of 2012 the Director, Marino Massimo de Caro, announced that 1500 books were missing (April 17). On April 20 the Library was closed by the Naples Public Prosecutor. Marino Massimo de Caro has been suspended and was investigated for embezzlement. On May 18, 1000 books, 240 of which have ownership stamps from the Girolamini Library were found in storage in Massimo Marino de Caro’s home city of Verona, and on May 24 Mr. de Caro was arrested on the charge of embezzlement along with four others; a search warrant is out for a fifth. In the meantime Massimo Marino de Caro has confessed to the theft of thousands of books from the library and is cooperating with police in tracing them.
A number of stolen items from the library have been confiscated by the authorities in Munich (16 items), London (28 items), New York and Tokyo (uncertain numbers).
According to what is currently known and what Massimo Marino de Caro has confessed so far, it is very likely that the number of stolen books from the Girolamini Library is higher than 1500 but no definitive list of missing items has been published by Italian authorities so far. It appears also to be clear that the stolen books were spread out via the trade in several countries, in both Europe and elsewhere.
A number of the books can be recognized by a red library stamp (with a Madonna in the center) but not all books bear this stamp.
Italian authorities have requested assistance from the public prosecutor’s offices in several countries so far. They have also asked Interpol headquarters at Lyon, France, for assistance.
We would therefore strongly advise our members to check their purchases of – mostly – Italian books from the 15th to the 17th centuries if these volumes were purchased in the time period between January to May of 2012.
We will provide our members with a list of stolen books from the Girolamini Library as soon as Italian authorities have published such a document. This is the direct contact to the Italian authorities.
Carabinieri Comando Tutela Patrimonio Culturale
Via Anicia 22
00155 Roma – Italia
phone +39 06 585631 / fax +39 06 58563200 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The responsible officer in charge is Colonello Raffaele Mancino. This gentleman knows who we are, what we are doing and he greatly appreciates our efforts.
Please keep also in mind that the stolen books were not only spread out to auction houses and the trade by Marino Massimo de Caro and his helpers, who have been arrested meanwhile, but also by other persons who simply had been used by De Caro and his gang. It is therefore thinkable that trustworthy persons have offered books to you!
Arnoud Gerits (ILAB Past President) - July 2012
>>> Press articles
All stolen booksLatest stolen books
An Alphabeticon : encyclopedia for the use of the lettered and unlettered Edition C- 16 volume set of the Analphabeticon;
An Alphabeticon : encyclopedia for the use of the lettered and unlettered Edition C- 16 volume set of the...
Criminal Trials in Scotland from AD MCCCLXXXVIII to AD MDCXXIV...With Historical Notes and Illustrations
xi; [i]; [v]-xii; [iii]-iv; [iii]-iv; ii; ii; ii; ii; iv; [ii]; [iii]-iv; -440 / [ii]; 441-513; (blank); 400...
Criminal Trials in Scotland from AD MCCCLXXXVIII to AD MDCXXIV...With Historical Notes and Illustrations
3 Volumes. 4to. 275 x 210mm. xi; [i]; [v]-xii; [iii]-iv; ii; 513; (blank); [ii]; iv; 400 / [iv]; ii; ii; ii; 604...
Försök, att, genom Anvöndandet af den Electrokemiska Theorien och de Kemiska Proportioerna, grundlägga ett rent vettenskapligt System för Mineralogien.
pp [iv], 103 (i.e. 102), uncut and unopened in the original plain blue wrappers.
Signed postcard photograph with inscription, in French, n.p., n.d. He writes, "To Madame [la danseuse?] ...." and...