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Thefts of Collections

Published 21 Oct. 2014

Books stolen from the Cappuccini Library in Florence (Italy)

A number of books has been stolen from the Cappuccini Library in Florence (Italy), among them are rare incunabula and 16th century printed books. The attached list contains book descriptions as well as pictures of the library stamps and other provenances.

If you come across of one or more of the items listed in the pdf file, please contact Fabrizio Govi, President of ALAI, or Susanna Vannocci.

Published 02 Sept. 2014

De Caro and the Girolamini Thefts - List of the books which had been confiscated or withdrawn from auction No 59 at Zisska & Schauer (Munich) in May 2012


Dear Fellow-Presidents,
Following our strategy to bringing as much light as possible in the Girolamini thefts, the Committee had asked the Munich based auction house Zisska & Lacher (formerly Zisska & Schauer) to provide us with a list of the books which had been confiscated or withdrawn from their auction No 59 in May of 2012 (the books from the Girolamini library). The auction house had agreed to sending us such a list, but, unfortunately, they could provide us only with a hard paper copy. The reason for this is that the PC of the then responsible manager – Herbert Schauer – had been confiscated by the Bavarian Police as well, and no other electronic copy of this list was available.

We have, however, managed to create a SEARCHABLE pdf-document after we had scanned some 80 pages we had received from the auction house. The list starts with the few books which were confiscated by the authorities before the auction had started. The next part of the list – some 50 to 60 items – had not been included to auction 59 out of unknown reasons. The last and most extensive part of the document covers all the withdrawn items of auction 59.

Zisska & Lacher have provided us also with a huge file of illustrations of the first 450 lots of auction 59. It is simply impossible to pick out the illustrations of the withdrawn items from this file, and add these to the catalogue descriptions. This would cost a lot of time, energy, and money. The Committee will, however, not hesitate to forward this file of images to anybody who might be interested in receiving it.

The Committee believes it to be important that with providing our affiliates with this pdf-document unforeseeable difficulties like the ones our member Christian Westergaard had to face, can be avoided. If any of our affiliates has another copy of one the books which were withdrawn by Zisska & Schauer in 2012 in his/her stock, he/she should immediately add relevant information – when had this copy been purchased, who was the seller, etc. – to this item.

We would be extremely glad if you, dear Fellow-Presidents, would forward this message to your members.
On behalf of the Committee I would like to express my sincere thanks in advance!
Kind regards,
Norbert Donhofer – President of ILAB (on behalf of the ILAB Committee) – September 2014

Download 1863_file1.pdf [...] Read more
Published 11 Aug. 2014

Books and Sketches Stolen from the Biblioteca del Seminario vescovile di Pontremoli and the Archivio storico della cattedrale di Massa


Hundreds of books – incunables and early printings – and historical sketches have been announced missing from the Biblioteca del Seminario vescovile di Pontremoli and the Archivio storico della cattedrale di Massa. The attached list contains pictures of the library stamps and ex-libris as well as book descriptions.

If you come across of one or more of the items listed in the pdf file below, please contact Fabrizio Govi, President of ALAI, or Susanna Vannocci.

Download 1860_file1.pdf [...] Read more
Published 29 May 2014

List of Books Stolen from the Castle of Datschitz (Moravia, Czech Republic)

The following books were stolen from the Castle of Datschitz, Moravia (Czech Republic) in the year 2007. It might be possible that the books show up or have already shown up in the trade.

For any further information please contact the ILAB Security Chair.

Click below to download the pdf file.

Download 1825_file1.pdf [...] Read more
Published 29 May 2014

List of Books Missing from the Teleki-Bolyai Library (Romania)

The following list of books missing from the Biblioteca Teleki-Bolyai in Mures (Romania) is posted on behalf of Adam Bosze, President of the Hungarian Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (MAE).

For more detailed information please contact Adam Bosze or the Teleki-Bolyai Library.  

Click below to download the pdf file.

Download 1824_file1.pdf [...] Read more
Published 29 May 2014

Three Volumes Stolen from the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library

On Thursday, June 7, 2012, staff at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) discovered that a 16th century printed book was missing from the work carrel of one of its catalogers. HMML staff conducted a thorough search of both HMML and Alcuin Library to ensure that the item had not been misplaced.  The staff immediately reviewed a list of rare materials that had been used that week in presentations during a workshop being held at the library.  It was discovered that two manuscript items from the Arca Artium collection were also missing, one of which had been used on Wednesday afternoon (June 6).  It is believed that all three volumes were stolen.  The manuscripts had already been photographed digitally and can be viewed in Vivarium, the online image service from the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (  Officers from Life Safety Services at Saint John’s University and from the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office began an investigative process that involved interviewing staff and library visitors.  New security precautions have since been put into place.  

The missing books are:

Item 1:  Two printed works in Latin, together in one volume.  These are bound in blind-stamped pigskin over wooden boards, with raised bands and two clasps. The volume measures approximately 16-17 cm X 10 cm X 4-5 cm.  
The two titles are:

·    Desiderius Erasmus.  D. Erasmi Roterodami, De copia verborum ac rerum commentarij duo …  (Haganeae: Ex officina Seceriana, 1532).

·    Adriano Castellesi. Hadrianus TT. S. Chrysogoni, S.R.E. Presby. Card. Batouien. De sermone Latino, & modis Latine loquendi …  (Basileae: in aedibus Thomae Vollffij, 1533).

Item 2:  Manuscript: “Señorio de Galisteo y sus 9 Aldeas. Sus pertenencias.”  (the caption at the top of the cover).  This is written on 30 unnumbered parchment leaves (i.e. 60 pages), of which the final two are blank (that is, [28 + 2] ff.).  The size is 29.2 x 22.2 cm. (ca. 11 ½“ by 9“), and about 1 cm (½ “) thick. It is bound in a light brown, soft parchment cover.  Online pictures at:,19967

Item 3:  Manuscript: Index codicum, authorum, et tractatuum in codicibus contentorum bibliothecae Alcobacensis (Alcobaça, ca. 1775?). This 18th century Latin manuscript contains brief descriptions for the manuscripts owned by the abbey of Alcobaça in Portugal.  It is written on 98 paper leaves (i.e., 196 pages), of which the final six (ff. 93-98) are blank].  It’s size is 33.2 cm. x 21.5 cm. x 2.5 cm (or 13.5” x ca. 8.5“ x 1”).  Online pictures at:

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library would appreciate any help in recovering these items.  If you have information or questions concerning this incident or these items, please contact:

Matthew Z. Heintzelman (
Phone: 320-363-2795 (front office: 320-363-3514)
Hill Museum & Manuscript Library
P.O. Box 7300
Saint John’s University,
Collegeville, MN 56321-7300

[...] Read more
Published 28 May 2014

Book Thefts from the Girolamini Library - Press Articles 2012/2013

In April 2012 it was announced that 1500 books were missing from one of the richest and oldest libraries in Italy: the Girolamini Library in Naples. Shortly afterwards the library’s director Marino Massimo de Caro was suspended, then arrested and accused of embezzlement along with four accomplices from Argentina and Ukraine. A number of stolen items from the library were confiscated in Munich, London, New York and Tokyo, but most of the books are still missing. It is not even known right now how many books were actually stolen.

Nearly every day, more and more news and background information become public. The book theft in the Girolamini Library turns out to be one of the most spectacular ever.  

Press release, published on behalf of the Munich auction house ZISSKA & SCHAUER (August 2013)

Statement issued by the Munich auction house ZISSKA & SCHAUER dated 10 August 2013 addressed to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, for immediate release, requesting distribution to its members

To whom it may concern

For reasons that will become apparent, and for clarification, we are issuing the following statement:

In the run-up to Auction 59 (9-11 May 2012), we were offered – through an intermediary – a valuable consignment of over four hundred books in private ownership in Italy. After careful scrutiny of the owners’ official credentials and the books themselves we said we were ready to accept the consignment.

On the evening before the auction (8 May 2012) we were informed by the Bavarian Landeskriminalamt that a number of books listed in Catalogue 59 would be confiscated on the grounds that ownership thereof was in question. As four of the books to be confiscated were from the private consignment mentioned above, to be on the safe side ZISSKA & SCHAUER decided to withdraw the whole consignment from the auction, particularly as information and rumours were spreading that there had been losses of books from the Girolamini Library in Naples. This suggested to us that there might be a connection with the consignment we had received from Italy.

The Italian authorities have been investigating the Director of the Girolamini Library and a large number of other persons accused. Among those accused is the intermediary who offered the consignment – allegedly in private ownership – to ZISSKA & SCHAUER. However, all the books in the consignment are still in Munich as no conclusive evidence has emerged to date that any of the books we received were in fact stolen from the Girolamini Library.

Quite extraordinarily, early on 2 August 2013 our Executive Director, Mr. Herbert Schauer, was taken from his apartment and arrested by the Munich criminal justice authorities. The Italian authorities had issued a European arrest warrant on the basis of self-exculpatory submissions made by a number of the accused in the Girolamini trials and had forwarded the warrant to the Bavarian authorities.

We are deeply shocked. All those who have worked with Mr. Schauer day in, day out over many years know that the accusations raised against him are preposterous, absurd and totally groundless. The auction house has immediately engaged the services of Dieter Löhr, lawyer and legal adviser to the Bundesverband Deutscher Kunstversteigerer (BDK), as legal counsel.

To ensure that preparations for Auction 62 (scheduled for 6 November 2013) are unaffected, it is essential to keep Mr. Schauer’s position occupied until he can return. Mr. Wolfgang Lacher, his business associate, will assume the role of managing director with immediate effect.

We would ask you, at this difficult juncture, for your continuing support. Rest assured that you can have every confidence in the new interim management.

ZISSKA, SCHAUER & CO. KG (Buch- und Kunstauktionshaus, Unterer Anger 15, 80331 Munich, Germany)

Snippets from some of the most interesting press articles and YouTube clips:

Reflections on Girolamini: Libraries, funding and the people we trust

“Finally, just last week, some resolution was brought to the developing crisis in Naples around one of the region’s oldest libraries, the Biblioteca dei Girolamini. This library, built alongside the Church and Convent of the Girolamini of Gerolamini in the late 16th century serviced the Oratory of the convent, but was also open to the public from its very beginnings. It is one of the richest libraries in the south of Italy, and one of the oldest in Naples and a particular example of the public library in pre-Unification Italy. The library expanded in the following centuries to a collection of almost 160,000 books which range in subjects from theology and church history to contemporary literature, archaeology, numismatics, music and local history, all dating from the 15th-19th century. Since the late 19th century the library has been administered by the local Cultural Ministry (Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali) and the Oratory.

So why should a blogger working for a Scottish University be concerned about this southern Italian gem? Well, to be honest, I hadn’t heard of the Girolamini library until April, when my attention was caught by a petition started by Italian academics which asked why the current librarian, Massimo Marino De Caro (a man with no professional qualifications and a dubious background), and his staff had been appointed to take care of this beautiful and important library. This came on the heels of De Caro’s announcement earlier in April that over 1,500 books were missing from the library, after which the shady background of De Caro began to unfold. This petition was signed by over 2,000 Italian and international academics and librarians (including this blogger). Three days later, the library was closed by the Naples Public Prosecutor and De Caro had been suspended and placed under inspection for embezzlement.  Following these events,evidence came to light that De Caro had been recorded on surveillance tapes removing boxes of books from the library, and that at least three volumes with the Girolamini stamp had been found in his Verona home.  On Friday, 18 May 2012, 1,000 books were found in a storage facility in Verona connected to De Caro, 250 of which had the Girolamini stamp on them, along with records of other which had been sold to foreign buyers. Last week,  De Caro and five other individuals were formally arrested for suspicion of theft and embezzlement.”

>>> Read the full article by Daryl Green in Echoes from the Vault

Police arrest head of Naples' oldest library for book theft

“ROME -- Italian police on Thursday arrested the director and the curator of the oldest library in Naples for stealing hundreds of books and manuscripts from their own collection. "The Girolamini Library has been the victim of a criminal plot," said Naples public prosecutor Giovanni Mellilo. The library's director, Massimo Marino De Caro, and its curator, Sandro Marsano, have been stealing books from the collection "over a long period of time", Mellilo said. Four others accused of involvement in the theft, three Argentinians and a Ukrainian, were also arrested.”

>>> May 24, 2012: The Herald Sun 

Biblioteca Girolamini, gli inquirenti:"Gente che agiva come struttura parallela"

>>> Video of the press conference held on May 24, 2012

Napoli, furto di libri antichi sequestrata la biblioteca Girolamini

>>> April 19, 2012 (Il Fatto Quotidiana): Interviews after the book thefts were discovered

Girolamini Library’s Disappearing Books

“It all started a couple of weeks ago. Florence-born Tomaso Montanari, who teaches history of modern art at Naples’ Federico II university and wrote a book called A che serve Michelangelo? [What’s the Point of Michelangelo?] advancing serious doubts on the attribution to the Renaissance genius of a crucifix purchased by the Berlusconi government for more than €3 million, wrote a piece for Il Fatto newspaper. Montanari said he had visited the Girolamini library, which holds over 150,000 ancient manuscripts and books, and found an appalling dust-layered mess with invaluable tomes lying on the floor and empty Coca-Cola cans on the ancient reading desks. Professor Montanari wrote: “The library is closed today because it has to be reorganised, says Fr Sandro Marsano, the enthusiastic, exquisitely polite Oratorian priest who welcomes visitors to the stupendous 17th-century complex. No, it’s closed because of the strange goings-on, say people who live nearby and mutter about heavily laden vehicles leaving the library courtyards late at night”.

>>> April 17, 2012: Read the full article in Corriere della Sera 

Leiter von Neapels ältester Bibliothek wegen Buchklaus festgenommen

Die Polizei hat den Direktor und den Konservator der ältesten Bibliothek Neapels wegen des Diebstahls hunderter Bücher und Manuskripte aus ihrer eigenen Einrichtung festgenommen. Staatsanwalt Giovanni Mellilo teilte am Donnerstag mit, Bibliotheksleiter Massimo Marino De Caro und Konservator Sandro Marsano hätten "über einen langen Zeitraum" gestohlen. Die Girolamini-Bibliothek sei das "Opfer eines kriminellen Projekts" geworden. Vier weitere Verdächtige wurden ebenfalls festgenommen.

>>> May 24, 2012: Die WELT 

Undici libri «sospetti» della Curia genovese a casa di don Marsano

“Tre depositi di libri antichi. E' questo l'ultimo riscontro delle indagini della Procura di Napoli nell'ambito dell'inchiesta sui furti di volumi antichi alla biblioteca dei Girolamini. I tre depositi sono stati scoperti in provincia di Verona dove già nei giorni scorsi gli inquirenti avevano trovato prove del furto dei testi dalle stanze della biblioteca.”

>>> May 28, 2012: A summary of the events in Corriere del Mezzogiorno

Napoli, traffico di libri antichi ai “Girolamini”: cinque arresti

“Tra loro c'è il contestatissimo direttore della struttura, Marino Massimo De Caro, per ottenere la rimozione del quale migliaia di intellettuali avevano firmato una petizione. In carcere sono finiti anche tre suoi collaboratori stranieri e un ricettatore veronese, Mirko Camuri, insegnante di ballo coinvolto in numerosi compravendite sospette di libri antichi. Numerose le perquisizioni disposte dal procuratore aggiuntoGiovanni Melillo e dai sostituti Michele Fini e Antonella Serio; tra i destinatari dei decreti figurano anche don Sandro Marsano, conservatore della biblioteca, e Maria Grazia Cerone, collaboratrice del senatore del Pdl Marcello Dell'Utri; sia Marsano sia Cerone sono indagati.”

>>> May 24, 2012: Eolo Press about the Marino Massimo de Caro and his accomplices

Girolamini, due nuovi arresti - Altre accuse all'ex direttore

“Nuova misura cautelare e nuovi indagati nell'inchiesta sulla gestione della Biblioteca dei Girolamini di Napoli, dalla quale sono stati trafugati migliaia di libri antichi. Un nuovo provvedimento restrittivo è stato notificato al direttore della struttura, Marino Massimo De Caro, a Mirko Camuri, Eloy Alejandro Cabello e Viktoriya Pavlonskiy, già arrestati nelle scorse settimane con l'accusa di peculato: a tutti viene ora contestato il reato di associazione per delinquere e, dopo un più accurato conteggio dei volumi ritrovati e sequestrati, il peculato per 2.200 libri, cui potrebbero aggiungersi alcune altre centinaia di testi sotto sequestro presso una casa d'aste in Germania.”
>>> On June 9, Corriere del Mezzogiorno reports that two more suspects were arrested and that even more books were stolen. It could be more than 2.200 books. The suspects are now accused of embezzlement and conspiracy.

Girolamini, il gip: il nome di Dell'Utri bloccò il sequestro

“Nell'ambito dell'inchiesta sulla gestione della biblioteca dei Girolamini, la Procura di Napoli intendeva perquisire un appartamento di via Crispi a Roma le cui utenze telefoniche risultano intestate a Marino Massimo De Caro, direttore della biblioteca ritenuto il promotore dell' assoziazione a delinquere finalizzata all'acquisizione dei libri. … Secondo il gip, dunque, nelle stanze usate da De Caro i carabinieri trovavano molte scatole piene di libri provenienti dalla biblioteca dei Girolamini.”

>>> On June 13, 2012, La Republicca Napoli reports that the police searched an apartment in Rome the other day. There they found several boxes with book from the Bibliotheca Girolamini.

Biblioteca Girolamini svuotata, il giudice: «Organizzazione criminale, De Caro capo»

“I libri antichi custoditi nella biblioteca dei Girolamini «venivano trasferiti da Napoli a Verona per essere poi spostati in altre regioni d’Italia e all’estero» da una «vera e propria organizzazione criminale che ha in Marino Massimo De Caro il capo e promotore»: lo scrive il gip Francesca Ferri nell’ordinanza di custodia cautelare notificata sabato scorso al direttore della storica biblioteca, accusato ora non solo di peculato ma anche di associazione per delinquere.”

>>> On June 6, 2012, L’Arena characterizes De Caro as the head of an international organization and says that the theft from the Girolamini Library is part of an organized "looting".

[...] Read more
Published 28 May 2014

The Girolamini Thefts in the Press: August 2013 to January 2014

August 2013

Le nouvel observateur (July 12, 2013)

« La Divine Comédie» a disparu... (French)

ActuaLitté. Les univers u livre (August 12, 2013)

Démantèlement d'un trafic de livres rares à la bibliothèque Girolamini de Naples

Börsenblatt Online (August 13, 2013)

"Vorwürfe ungeheuerlich, absurd und völlig haltlos" (German)

Süddeutsche Zeitung (August 22, 2013)

Münchner Antiquar unter Hehlereiverdacht (German) (no longer online)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (August 23, 2013)

Unter Verdacht – Ermittlungen gegen Auktionator (German)

La Gazetta di Mezzogiorno  (August 27, 2013)

German auction house owner nabbed in Girolamini library case (English)

Gazetta del  Sud (August 27, 2013)

German auction house owner nabbed in Girolamini library case (English)

The Telegraph (August 28, 2013)

Head of German auction house arrested over theft of Italian antique books (English)

The Local (August 28, 2013)

Outcry over arrest of German 'book thief' (English)

American Hard Assets (August 28, 2013)

Director of German Auction House Arrested for Stealing Italian Antique Books (English)

Information Today (August 28, 2013)

German auctioneer arrested as 'book thief' (English)

Il Fatto Terza Pagina (August 28, 2013)

Saccheggio dei Girolamini, nessuno è intoccabile (Italian)

Sheppard's Confidential  (August 30, 2013)

International: Girolamini library in Naples - auction house director arrested (English, no web link)

September 2013

The Art Newspaper (September 2, 2013)

Munich auctioneer arrested over historic library thefts in Naples. By Julia Michalska (English) 

Verband Deutscher Antiquare e.V. (September 9, 2013)

"Vorwürfe ungeheuerlich, absurd und völlig haltlos" - Pressestimmen zur Verhaftung von Herbert Schauer (German, English, Italian)[tt_news]=96

October 2013

Plume. Le magazine du patrimonie écrit (October 2013)

Le pillage de la Girolamini (French)

The Art Newspaper (October 21, 2013)

Italy’s culture ministry takes over management of plundered Girolamini church. By Tina Lepri and Ermanno Rivetti (English)

L'Espresso (October 25, 2013)

007 a caccia dei libri rubati. Si cercano da Londra a New York e in Argentina le migliaia di opere saccheggiate alla Biblioteca dei Girolamini da una banda. Guidata da un protetto di Dell’Utri. By Claudio Pappaianni and Luca Piana (Italian)

November 2013

L’Espresso (November 6, 2013)

Estradato in Italia il libraio dei Girolamini. Herbert Schauer, titolare di una nota libreria antiquaria di Monaco, è stato portato nel carcere di Rebibbia. E' accusato di aver messo all'asta 543 volumi rubati nella biblioteca napoletana (Italian)

The New York Times (November 29, 2013)

Rare Books Vanish, With a Librarian in the Plot. Unraveling Huge Thefts From Girolamini Library in Naples. By Rachel Donadio (English)

NewsDiffs (November 30, 2013)

Corrections to: Rare Books Vanish, With a Librarian in the Plot. Unraveling Huge Thefts From Girolamini Library in Naples (English)

Context (November 30, 2013)

By the book (English)

LIS News (November 30, 2013)

Huge Thefts from Girolamini Library with a Librarian in the Plot (English)

CUA CHIM (November 30, 2013)

Theft of Centuries - Old Texts from the Girolamini Library. By Joseph Koivisto (English)

December 2013

Off the Shelf (December 3, 2013)

The Book Thief, Italian Style (English)

Tele Read (December 3, 2013)

Rare Books? See Naples and Die. Whoops! By Paul St. John Mackintosh (English)

The Indian Express (December 7, 2013)

A forger, thief, library director (English)

The Sunday Times (December 8, 2013)

Tome raider brought to book. By John Follain (English)   

All Things About Albrecht Durer (December 8, 2013)

The Apoclaypse has started - Who's watching the book dealers? No one! And the Germans are involved too! (English)

Examiner (December 9, 2013)

Nick Schmidle Interviews Book Thief, Forger M.M. De Caro for The New Yorker (English)

Cand.Com (December 12, 2013)

Một cựu Giám đốc Thư viện đánh cắp hàng ngàn cổ thư (Vietnamese)

Le Devoir. Libre de penser (December 14, 2013)

Bibliothèques - Le club des voleurs de livres napolitain. By Stéphane Baillargeon (French)

The E-Sylum (December 15, 2013)

Girolamini Library Book Thefts (English)

The New Yorker (December 16, 2013)

A Very Rare Book. The mystery surrounding a copy of Galileo’s pivotal treatise. By Nicholas Schmidle (English)

Zauber der Sterne (December 18, 2013)

“Sidereus Nuncius” und der größte Fälschungsskandal seit 200 Jahren (German)

BBC News, Italy (December 19, 2013)

Naples' Girolamini: The looting of a 16th Century library. By Alan Johnston (English) (December 19, 2013)

Λεηλατήθηκε βιβλιοθήκη του 16ου αιώνα (Greek)

Kristeligt Dagblad (December 20, 2013)

De stjålne bøger fra Girolamini-biblioteket (Danish)

New York Times (December 22, 2013)

Book Theft in Italy, With a Hint of Politics. By Rachel Donadio (English)

also in: The Sydney Morning Herald (December 25, 2013)

Deutschland Radio Kultur (December 22, 2013)

Kunsthistoriker Bredekamp über die spektakuläre Fälschung einer Galilei-Schrift (German)

WDR Kulturnachrichten (December 23, 2013)

Kunsthistoriker Horst Bredekamp saß Fälschung auf (German)

Internazionale (December 23, 2013)

Un tesoro di libri (Italian)

Hyperallergic (December 23, 2013)

Italian Library Ransacked by Its Own Director. By Jillian Steinhauer (English)

Elitedaters (December 27, 2013)

Skandalen om den tyvagtige biblioteksdirektør (Danish)

The American Spectator (December 27, 2013)

The Vandals within the Gates. Anyone still prize rare books and reading? (English)

Die Zeit (December 28, 2013)

Der gefälschte Mond. Erst Sensation, dann Albtraum: Der Kunsthistoriker Horst Bredekamp feierte aufgetauchte Zeichnungen als echte Werke von Galileo Galilei. Frühe Warnungen amerikanischer Wissenschaftler schlug er in den Wind. Warum nur? By Hanno Rauterberg (German)

Berliner Zeitung (December 29, 2013)

Der zu schöne Mond von Galilei. By Nikolaus Bernau (German),10809150,25747502.html

Der Stern (December 29, 2013)

Mondfinsternis über Mitte (German)

Storie dell'Arte (December 30, 2013)

“Il racconto del cielo. Capolavori dei Girolamini a Lecce” (Italian)

January 2014

Télé Matin (January 1, 2013)

Le vol de manuscrits anciens à Naples (French)

Courrier international (January 2, 2014)

La bibliothèque et les cinquante voleurs (French)

Information Today (January 8, 2014)

Getting Away With History. By Donovan Griffin (English)


Official statements by ILAB

November 29, 2013 (by ILAB President Tom Congalton)

Re: “Rare Books Vanish, with a Librarian in the Plot” (November 29).

To the Editor of the New York Times:

I take exception to the comments of the Naples prosecutor who states “The international market absorbed, without batting an eye, books that they couldn’t not have known came from the Girolamini Library”.

No catalog exists of the stolen books, and the library’s markings were removed by a professional conservator. Despite this he assumes that booksellers should be clairvoyant when confronted with the books, in the process jumping to the conclusion that there is “a sometimes corrupt market for rare books…”

The trade is remarkably efficient in recovering stolen books. Often, such thefts are discovered by booksellers who act promptly in investigating the provenance of questioned items, often to their own financial detriment. The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) and the member national organizations have been diligent in this pursuit and are active in maintaining stolen book databases and coordinating with law enforcement groups.

The prosecutor has neglected to provide lists of stolen books, despite constant requests, and he has largely ignored the forgeries which were obviously part of a sophisticated and carefully organized conspiracy, with deep roots in the Italian political system.

The prosecutor would do well to engage with those who have the expertise required to help recover the books looted from Girolami: the very antiquarian booksellers he seems so eager to stigmatize.

Tom Congalton,(President, International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB)

October 19, 2013 (by ALAI President Fabrizio Govi)

Latest news about the Girolamini Thefts (English / French) and

also on the ABA website:

June 8, 2012 (by ILAB Immediate Past President Arnoud Gerits)

Massive Thefts at the Girolamini Library in Naples (English / French)  and



Diritto Penale Contemporaneo (March 15, 2013)

Tribunale di Napoli. Ufficio del Giudice per le indagini preliminari VIII sezione  


Official statements by Zisska & Schauer

Zisska & Schauer (August 10, 2013)

Kommuniqué des Auktionshauses ZISSKA & SCHAUER vom 10.08.2013 an den Verband Deutscher Antiquare e.V., mit der Bitte um sofortige Bekanntgabe an seine Mitglieder

Press release, published on behalf of the Munich auction house ZISSKA & SCHAUER

Reblogged on vialibrarian (August 13, 2013)

Zisska & Schauer (October 15, 2013)

Kommuniqué Nr. 2 des Auktionshauses ZISSKA & SCHAUER vom 15.10.2013[tt_news]=99 and

Download 1742_file1.pdf [...] Read more
Published 26 June 2013

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

[...] Read more
Published 08 Jan. 2013

Recent Book Thefts in the Library of the Abbey of Montecassino

The Italian Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association has published a list of books stolen from the Library of the Abbey of Montecassino. The library’s director, Dott. Francesco Rosa, has kindly given permission to inform all ILAB booksellers about this recent theft in detail.

The monastery was founded by Benedict of Nursia in 529. There he wrote the Benedictine Rule which became the founding principle for Western  monasticism.

The list of stolen books comprises incunables and early printed books, many of them printed by Aldus Manutius in Venice, for example the works of Aristotle (1495) and Gaza’s “Introductionae grammatices libri quatuor” (1495), as well as Aliaco’s “Concordantia astronomiae”, printed in Augsburg (Germany) in 1490, and Hartmann Schedel’s “Liber chronicarum” (Nuremberg 1493), from which woodcuts were stolen.  

If you have any information about the books, please contact ALAI President Fabrizio Govi.


Aliaco, Petrus de
Concordantia astronomiae cum theologia...
Augustae vindelicorum, Herardus Ratdolt, 1490

Venetiis, per Aldi Manucii, 1495

Gaza, Theodorus
Introductionae grammatices libri quator
Eiusdem de mensibus opusculum sanequam pulcrtum
Apollonii grammatici de constructione libri quator
Herodianus de numeris
Venetiis, Aldus Manutius, 1495

Lucretius Titus Carus
De Rerum Natura. Studio Hieronymi Avancii
Venetiis, apud Aldum, 1500

Regimontanus, Johannes
Astronomicon epitoma
Venetiis, M. Romanurum, 1496

Regimontanus, Johannes
Kalendarium magistri Joannis de Monteregio
Augustae Vindelicorum, E. Ratdolt, 1489


Apanta ta tou Platonos. Omnia Platonis opera
(Venetiis, in aedib. Aldi, et Andreae soceri , mense Septembri 1513)

Alberti, Leon Battista
Leonis Baptistae Alberti, viri doctissimi, de equo animante: ad Leonellum Ferrariensem principem libellus: Michaelis Martini Stellae cura ac studio inuentus, & nunc demum per eundem in lucem editus Basilea , 1556

Copernico, Niccolò
Nicolai Copernici Torinensis De reuolutionibus orbium coelestium, libri 6
Basileae, ex officina Henricpetrina, (1566 mense Septembri)

Finè Oronce
Quadratura circuli, tandem inventa et clarissime demonstarata
Lutetiae Parisiorum, apud S. Coliseum, 1544.

Finè Oronce
Aritmetica pratica, libris quator absolluta, omnibus qui mathematicas ipsas tractare volunt, perutilias, admodunque necessaria...
Parisiis, ex off. S. Colineai, 1542.


Fontana, Francesco
Novae coelestium terrestriumque rerum observationes et fotasse hactenus non vulgatae a F. Fontana Neapoli, apud Gassarum, 1646

Galilei, Galileo
Dialogo di G. Galilei dove si discorre sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo tolemaico e copernicano. Fiorenza, per Gio. Battista Landini, 1632

Galilei, Galileo
Le Operazioni del compasso geometrico, et militare. Di Galileo Galilei nobil fiorentino lettor delle matematiche nello studio di Padoua. Dedicato al sereniss. principe di Toscana d. Cosimo Medici In Padova, in casa dell'autore, per Pietro Marinelli, 1606


Schedel, Hartmann
Liber chronicarum
Nuremberg, Anton Koberger, 1493
Carte (leaves) XII - XIII

[...] Read more
Published 16 July 2012

Stolen Books Recovered in Suspicious Circumstances - Unknown Ownership

The Art and Antiques Squad at New Scotland Yard have asked the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA) to put out the following message and list.

In 2008 a number of books were stolen from a British library. This year a number of the books were recovered in Barcelona. The following list are books that were recovered along with the identified stolen books, but ownership is unknown and suspected stolen. Does anyone recognise them? Sorry, but author names have not been given.

1. Antiquitates italicae medii aevi, sive dissertationes … Numquan antea editis. Auctore Ludovico antonio muratorio. Editionem curantibus. Mediolani, MDCCXXXVIII (Obra en 6 Volumenes)

2.  Deutsche Groke ein unvollendetes gedicht schillers 1801…Im Uufrage des Dorftandes der Goethe Gefellichaft…von Bernhard Suphan. Weimar 1902.

3. Goethe Gallerie. (Coleccion de laminas de Gothe)

4. Observations upon the handwriting of Philip Melanchthon … By S Leigh Sotheby…London MDCCCXXXIX

5. Concilia rotomagensis provinciae accedunt diecesanae synodi pontificum epistolae … Guillelmi Bessin … ROTOMAGI apud Franciscum Vaultier. MDCCXVII

6. Erlaeuterungen der umrisse von moritz retzsch zu shakespeare’s dramatischen werken, von C.A. Boettiger Zu Hamlet und Machbeth von Carl Borromaeus von Miltitz Zu Romeo und Julia, Und Konig Lear, Von Prof. Dr. Hermann Ulrici Zu Dem Sturm, othello…Leipzig Ernst Fleischer 1847

7. The Keramic Gallery … by William Chaffers … Volume I, London 1872

8. Geografia universale … Del P Buffier della compagnia di gesu …. nuova edizione …. In Venezia, MDCCLXVIII. Presso Francesco Pitteri.

9. Scala Natvrale overo fantasia dolcissima … Gio Camillo Maffei, da Solofra. 1563

10. 122 “Tarjetas” del S XVIII. (Alemanas?) Mejor ver.

11. Brieffe die reuefte litteratur betreffend …. Berlin und Gtettin, 1767, Ben Friedrich Ricolai. (5 volumenes)

12. La vie du chancelier Francois Bacon … A Amsterdam MDCCLV

13. Historie genealogiqve de la maison de harcovrt. Enrichie dvn grand nombre d’armories … Ivstifiee par plvsiervrs charte s… par Mwfsire Gilles Andre de la Roque … A Paris MDCLXII (Obra en 4 Volúmenes)

14. Nuveau traite de diplomatique…par deux religieux benedictins de la congregation de S Maur. A Paris, Guillaume Desprez, Pierre Guillaume Cavelier. MDCCL (Obra en 7 Volumenes)

15. Voyage of his magesty’s ship alceste, along the coast of corea to the island of lewchew; with an account of her subsequent shipwreck. By john M Leod, Surgeon, of the alceste. Second Edition. London, John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1818

16 .Historie de bretagne, avec chroniqves des maisons de vitre et de laval. Par pierre le bayd, chantre et chanoine…a paris chez Gervais Alliot, au palai, pres la Chappelle Dainel Michel MDCXXXVIII

17. Historie genealogiqve des maisons de gvines d’ardres de gand, et de covcy … par Andre dv Chesne Tovrangeav … A Paris chez Sebastien Cramoisy … MDCXXXI

18. Historie genealogiqve de la maison de montmorency et de laval … A Paris chez Sebastien Cramoisy … MDCXXIIII

19. Historie de Bretagne … Par Dom Gui Alexis Lobineau, prestre, religieux benedictin de la congregation de S Maur … A Paris Chez la Veuve Francois Muguet, Premier Imprimeur du Roy, du clerge de France … MDCCVII (Obra en 2 Volumenes)

Please contact:

The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association
Sackville House, 40 Piccadilly
London W1J 0DR

phone: +44 (0)20 7439 3118


[...] Read more
Published 03 July 2012

Missing Books, announced by the Associazione Librai Antiquari d'Italia (ALAI)

Click below to download the pdf file and to find further contact information.

Download 1097_file1.pdf [...] Read more