Ex-Librarian and Bookseller Plead Guilty to Stealing Rare Texts Worth $8 Million From Pennsylvania Library

From Smithsonian Magazine:

Between 1992 and 2017, archivist Greg Priore smuggled some 300 documents worth more than $8 million out of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where he served as sole manager of the rare books room. As Paula Reed Ward reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Priore hid illustrated pages or plates in manila envelopes, rolled up larger items, or simply carried books out of the library. He then delivered the items to bookseller John Schulman, who subsequently re-sold them to unsuspecting clients.

On Monday, the two men pleaded guilty to stealing and selling rare books and other documents from the Pennsylvania library. They will be sentenced on April 17 of this year.

full list of the missing documents details texts with an estimated collective price tag of $8,066,300. The total value of the stolen items makes the operation one of the largest crimes of its kind.

Library staff discovered the deception in April 2017, when a routine insurance appraisal revealed 320 missing items, including atlases, maps, plate books, photograph albums and manuscripts, as well as 16 damaged works. When a formal investigation began in 2018, library spokesperson Suzanne Thinnes said the culprit was likely someone familiar with the library’s rare books room who had stolen items over an extended period of time.

. . . .

Among the stolen items were a first edition of Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica and a 400-year-old Bible, both of which have since been recovered. The Bible was traced to a museum in the Netherlands, per the Associated Press, and returned last year.

The most valuable book lost was a German version of Maximilian, Prince of Wied’s, Travels in the Interior of North America, which was valued at $1.2 million.

. . . .

Authorities recovered 42 of the lost items, 18 of which were heavily damaged, from Schulman’s book shop warehouse during a nine-day search. Per CNN’s Alec Snyder, another 14 titles were found on sale at Schulman’s Caliban Book Shop, while 37 were spotted listed for sale on a rare books website.

Link to the rest at Smithsonian Magazine

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