Press Articles

Former Official of the Ministry of Science Stole Thousands of Books from German Libraries

Over many years a former official of the Ministry of Science stole nearly 15.000 rare and valuable books from German libraries worth millions of euros. The thief was caught a year and a half ago in  the Fürstlich Waldecksche Court Library, where he had been a frequent guest. Nobody there had ever thought that he had been the thief of 180 books worth 150.000 euros until he was arrested by the police. The book theft in the Court Library was one of many deeds, of which the former state official is now accused.

„In seinem Wohnhaus in Darmstadt stapelten sich tausende von wertvollen historischen Bänden, hauptsächlich Ausgaben aus dem 18. Jahrhundert. Bevor der damals 45-jährige Beamte aus dem hessischen Wissenschaftsministerium Ende Februar 2012 auf frischer Tat ertappt wurde, hatte er aus Bibliotheken im ganzen Bundesgebiet und dem europäischen Ausland einen riesigen Schatz zusammengetragen. Die Polizei ging von einem Wert in Millionenhöhe aus ... In der fürstlichen Hofbibliothek in Bad Arolsen ging der Dieb ein und aus und genoss großes Vertrauen - bis er dort gestellt wurde, als er gerade mit mehreren Dutzend Bänden das Gebäude verließ.“ Click here to read the whole article (in German).

>>> Ex-Beamter als Bücherdieb angeklagt (HR Online) 


The First Folio Thief found dead in his cell

Raymond Scott was sentenced to eight years in prison, because he had stolen a first folio edition of William Shakespeare’s works from Durham University in 1998. On Wednesday he was found dead in his cell in Northumberland prison.

“Scott ensured extra headlines for an already notorious crime, the theft of the 17th-century work from Durham University library, when he attended court dressed as Che Guevara, sprayed journalists with champagne and revelled in his ownership of a yellow Ferrari. He was cleared of stealing the book but found guilty of handling stolen property and taking it abroad. He concocted a defence so exotic – involving the supposed discovery of the folio in Cuba through a friend of his fiancee, a nightclub dancer in Havana – that the judge put him down as a fantasist with a personality disorder.”

Read the full article in The Guardian:

>>> Shakespeare folio dealer found dead in cell, by Martin Wainwright


Stealing the Mona Lisa - 100 years after the theft a documentary film uncovers new insights into the theft of the masterpiece


“On 21 August 1911, someone entered the Salon Carre of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, removed the Mona Lisa from the wall, unfastened the clamps holding the panel to its frame, and walked off. A painstaking police investigation followed, as newspapers fumed over such a brazen theft. Police failed to capture the thief until he tried to sell the painting in Florence more than two years later. Stealing the Mona Lisa is the stuff of lore and legend. The daring theft of the world’s most famous painting was assumed to be the work of a savvy operator. Yet the truth was far different. Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece was lifted by an immigrant housepainter, who didn’t know what to do with the painting once it was in his hands. The unglamorous facts of the case didn’t keep the crime from turning into a myth.”

German thieves were suspected, others thought the Mona Lisa was sold to New York, Pablo Picasso was questioned, and Appolinaire was locked up on suspicion. A hundred years later film maker Joe Medeiros turned the myth into a documentary. “The Missing Piece” has been released on August 21, 2011. Thanks to documents from the Paris archives Medeiro has reconstructed the theft as well as the public speculations and the police investigations afterwards.

Read the whole article in The Art Newspaper

>>> Stealing the Mona Lisa - 100 years after the theft a documentary film uncovers new insights into the theft of the masterpiece


Lost Lincoln letter returned to the Archives


“A Civil War-era letter written by Abraham Lincoln that went missing at an unknown date has surfaced and has been returned to the National Archives . … An Archives employee saw the document listed for sale in 2009 and recognized it as belonging to the government. When contacted, Panagopous who was representing a family from Rhode Island in the sale, had already sold the documents to a New York dealer. Upon realizing the provenance of the papers, Panagopulos refunded the purchase price to the dealer to get them back and the Rhode Island family, in turn, agreed to refund the money they had been paid so the papers could be retuned to the government.“

Read the whole article in The Washington Post:

>>> Lost Lincoln letter returned to the Archives. By Linda Wheeler in The Washington Post

Watch the video on Youtube:

>>> Featuring Bill Panagopulos of Alexander Autographs, Inc and Alexander Historical Auctions of Stamford, Conn., who returned the documents 


Police Prevented Theft of Historical Documents


"Barry H. Landau has rubbed elbows with presidents, helped plan inaugurations, and claims one of the largest collections of Oval Office memorabilia outside museums and presidential libraries. His Manhattan apartment includes a collection of china from Thomas Jefferson's inauguration and a picture of Landau kissing John F. Kennedy's dog Clipper. Police say he tried to expand that collection by pilfering dozens of rare documents from the Maryland Historical Society on Saturday." The historical papers include documents signed by Abraham Lincoln, commemorations of the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument as well as presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs.

>>> Pair tried to steal historical documents worth millions, police say. Presidential historian and collector held without bond. By Justin Fenton (The Baltimore Sun)


The 5 Most Stolen Books - A Survey by Publisher's Weekly 


This week two spectacular book thefts have gone through the press. The World's famous Codex Calixtinus, worth millions, is missing in Santiago de Compostela. A few days later historian and author Barry H. Landau was arrested on charges of stealing historical documents, including ones signed by Abraham Lincoln, from the Maryland Historical Society. "The arrest eventually led to Landau’s locker, where police found upwards of 60 documents worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Laudau’s heist and the tremendous value of the stolen documents got us thinking about the other end of the literature theft spectrum: what are the most frequently stolen books from bookstores?" Publisher's Weekly made a survey with surprising results. Read the whole article by Gabe Habash:

>>> The 5 Most Stolen Books 


Rare Comic Taken From Nic Cage Resurfaces


"A valuable comic featuring the debut of Superman has re-surfaced in a storage locker, and police said Monday that it appears to be the same one stolen from Nicolas Cage more than a decade ago. The mint copy of Action Comics No. 1 was in police custody after being found last week in a San Fernando Valley storage locker. An investigation into its theft and recovery is under way. The comic was authenticated and appears to be the one stolen from Cage in 2000, said Detective Don Hrycyk with the Los Angeles Police Department's Art Theft Detail.It is unclear whether the 1938 comic will be returned to the Oscar-winning actor. Hrycyk said Cage accepted an insurance payout after its theft and will have to work out the details with the company."

>>> Police: Rare Comic Taken From Nic Cage Resurfaces, by Anthony McCartney (Ventura County Star) 


The Secret Life of Libraries, by Bella Bathurst


“You can tell a lot about people from the kind of books they steal. Every year, the public library service brings out a new batch of statistics on their most-pilfered novelists – Martina Cole, James Patterson, Jacqueline Wilson, JK Rowling. But in practice, different parts of Britain favour different books. Worksop likes antiques guides and hip-hop biographies. Brent prefers books on accountancy and nursing, or the driving theory test. Swansea gets through a lot of copies of the UK Citizenship Test. In Barnsley, it's Mig welding and tattoos ("I've still no idea what Mig welding is," says Ian Stringer, retired mobile librarian for the area. "The books always got taken before I could find out.") And Marylebone Library in London has achieved a rare equality. Their most stolen items are The Jewish Chronicle, Arabic newspapers and the Bible.” What kind of books are stolen from public libraries? And what does it say about us? A very interesting article by Bella Bathurst:

>>> The Secret Life of Libraries, by Bella Bathurst (The Guardian May 1, 2011)


Librarian to recount story of ‘map thief’, by Taylor Oldfield    


“In 2006, Western librarian Rob Lopresti was involved in the investigation of the theft of 648 pages that were torn from 102 rare books in Western’s Wilson Library. The investigation lasted two years and crossed state lines, finally ending with the conviction of James L. Brubaker, who was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $23,000 in restitution – most of it to Western. The Western Front sat down with Lopresti to talk about the thefts.”

>>> Librarian to recount story of ‘map thief’ – Interview by Taylor Oldfield in The Western Front Online


"Folio Thief Gets 8 Years" For Stealing and Damaging Rare Books


Raymond Scott had stolen a first folio edition of William Shakespeare's works from Durham University in 1998. Now he has been sentenced to eight years in prison. "In this strange case, it's not so much the theft that galls, book theft has been going on for centuries and is not likely to subside. It's the fact that Scott mutilated the volume ... Scott had removed the goat binding and cut the cords on the spine in an effort to disguise the book's provenance. Some pages are also missing, including the frontispiece engraving of the Bard" (Rebecca Rego Barry).

The BBC News: "Raymond Scott, 53, from County Durham was cleared of stealing the treasure, but found guilty of handling stolen goods at a trial in June. The 1623 work was taken from a display cabinet at Durham University in 1998. Judge Richard Lowden called the folio "quintessentially English treasure" and said damage to it was "cultural vandalisation". The case related to one of the surviving copies of the 17th Century compendium of Shakespeare's plays.It was handed in by Scott to the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC a decade later. The Newcastle Crown Court trial was told Scott kept the badly-damaged volume, estimated to be worth about £1m, at his house for a decade before taking it to the Folger library where staff called police.It was alleged Scott hoped to sell the treasure at auction and share the money with friends in Cuba."

>>> Antiques dealer jailed over stolen Shakespeare folio - BBC News, August 2, 2010

>>> Folio Thief Gets 8 Years - By Rebecca Rego Barry, Fine Books & Collections, August 2, 2010

>>> Stolen Durham University Shakespeare folio 'mutilated' - BBC News, July 9, 2010


How Thieves Target Rare Books


“A book thief who served a four-year jail sentence should have turned over a new leaf. Instead, he has been sent back to prison after targeting one of Britain's most distinguished libraries. The case highlights a little known, but widespread crime.”

“Cambridge-educated with an understanding of antiquarian books, Jacques started stealing distinguished works of literature by plundering the collection at his old university library. Between October 1996 and May 1999, he stole about 500 extremely rare books and pamphlets from Cambridge, the British Library and London Library. Many were then sold on through auction houses in the UK and abroad, netting him hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

>>> How Thieves Target Rare Books – Andrew McFarlane in BBC News Magazine, Juli 21, 2010


'Tome Raider' jailed over rare book thefts in London


More about the “Tome Raider”: “William Jacques, 41, was found guilty of removing the works from the Lindley Library at the Royal Horticultural Society between 2004 and 2007. Prosecutors told Southwark Crown Court he stole in a "systemic" manner. Jacques was jailed for three-and-a-half years. He was previously jailed in 2002 for stealing 500 rare books worth £1m.”

>>> 'Tome Raider' jailed over rare book thefts in London – BBC News, July 20, 2010


'Tome raider' jailed again for stealing antique books


“Serial book thief William Jacques stole books worth £40,000 from a London library, a court hears. A Cambridge graduate who stole more than £1m worth of rare books during his career as a professional book thief was today found guilty of stealing £40,000's worth of books from a celebrated library. William Jacques, nicknamed "Tome Raider" after stealing hundreds of rare books in the late 1990s, drew up a "thief's shopping list", targeting the most expensive books that he could access. He used a false name to sign in to the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley library in London before hiding valuable books under his tweed jacket, Southwark Crown Court was told.”

>>>  Alexandra Topping in The Guardian, Tuesday June 22, 2010


Man created absurd world in plot to sell stolen Shakespeare folio


“A debt-ridden man hatched an extraordinary plot to make over £1m from a stolen First Folio of Shakespeare's plays, a court heard today. Raymond Scott, who lived with his elderly mother in a County Durham cul-de-sac, created an "absurd" fake world involving an imaginary playboy lifestyle and a lost book hoard in Cuba, a jury at Newcastle crown court was told. Calling unannounced at one of the world's leading centres of Shakespeare studies in Washington DC, the 53-year-old pressed reticent academics to back his claim that the 387-year-old treasure was previously unknown, kept in a box by the mother of a major in Fidel Castro's army.”

>>> Martin Wainwright in The Guardian

Arrest over theft of £50,000 work on Camellias from RHS Library


A thief was arrested on Christmas Day in Yorkshire (UK). The Cambridge graduate William Jacques had stolen Ambroise Verschaffelt”s Nouvelle Iconographies des Camellias from the RHS Lindley Library - one of the world’s finest horticultural collections containing books and art on garden history from 1514 to the present day. Verschaffelt’s Iconographies belongs to the rarest and most famous works on camellias – an opus magnum with 13 volumes. “It is alleged that Mr Jacques signed into the library in Vincent Square under the name of Mr Santoro and hid the 13 volumes under his jacket ...”

>>> Chris Smyth in The Times

Descartes Letter Found, Therefore It Is


"It was the Great Train Robbery of French intellectual life: thousands of treasured documents that vanished from the Institut de France in the mid-1800s, stolen by an Italian mathematician. Among them were 72 letters by René Descartes, the founding genius of modern philosophy and analytic geometry.It was the Great Train Robbery of French intellectual life: thousands of treasured documents that vanished from the Institut de France in the mid-1800s, stolen by an Italian mathematician. Among them were 72 letters by René Descartes, the founding genius of modern philosophy and analytic geometry."

>>> Patricia Cohen in the New York Times: Descartes Letter Found, Therefore It Is

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