The looting of a 16th Century library
2013-12-19 0:00

By Alan Johnston | BBC


Book-lovers around the world have been helping investigators trace thousands of rare volumes looted from one of Italy’s oldest libraries by a gang of thieves including the librarian himself. While most have been recovered, a number of invaluable 15th and 16th Century books are still missing.

Inside a 16th Century church complex in the heart of Naples, the Biblioteca Girolamini’s wooden shelves rise up and up towards richly decorated walls and vaulted ceilings.

They once held works of extraordinary value. There was a 1518 edition of Thomas More’s brilliant and mysterious Utopia. Galileo’s 1610 treatise Sidereus Nuncius, containing more than 70 drawings of the moon and the stars. And Johannes Kepler’s study of the motions of Mars, Astronomia Nova, described as one of greatest books in the history of astronomy.

But this magnificent piece of Italy’s cultural heritage was methodically plundered. Thousands of antique texts disappeared.

"Our investigations found that there was a true criminal system in action," says Major Antonio Coppola, a police chief who is leading the operation to recover the stolen texts. "A group of people... carried out a devastating, systematic looting of the library."

t was an art historian and academic, Professor Tomaso Montanari, who first alerted the police to what was happening. The library had been closed to the public for years, but Montanari heard reports that it was in trouble, and managed to make a visit with a student he was supervising in the spring of 2012.

He was shocked by what he found.

"There was a dog roaming around the library with a bone in its mouth!

"There were books spread around everywhere - on the floor, on the stairs, on tables. There was garbage - soda cans and papers - on the floor. It was total confusion, a situation of major decay. One of the library’s members of staff took me aside, away from the CCTV cameras, and said: ’Professor, the director has been looting the library!’"

[...]

Read the full article at: bbc.co.uk



Related Articles
The Most Spectacular Libraries Around the World
A Secret Library, Digitally Excavated
Over 113 Years, This Home Library Has Grown to 35,000 Books
Oldest known complete Torah scroll found in university library by chance
Earth: Pleiadian Keys to the Living Library
The library where robots pick the books
The Mysterious Crespi Collection & The Metal Library
A million library books to be sent down the mines
Egypt’s richest Library set on Fire
Secret Tibetan Book of the Dead
15th Century cathedral transformed into a book shop
Secret Fore-Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books


Latest News from our Front Page

60 Years of Research Links Gluten Grains to Schizophrenia
2015-03-31 1:05
Does the consumption of gluten-containing grains contribute to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia? Believe it or not, this question has been asked for well over 60 years by researchers who stumbled upon evidence that the removal of gluten from the diet results in improved symptoms, or conversely, that gluten grain consumption leads to higher prevalence of both neurological and psychiatric problems. Reports ...
A Sour Deception: Citric Acid Comes From GMO Black Mold, Not Fruit
2015-03-30 23:32
Just what is your food made of, anyway? Try industrial synthesis, genetically modified mold secretions, hydrochloric acid, mercury-contaminated caustic soda, ferrocyanide… and, of course, lots of GMO corn. If common ingredients like “citric acid” and “ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)” sound normal and familiar enough that you practically conjure up an image of the flourishing orchard they were grown in – then ...
Thousands of migrants dumped on Britain as French wriggle out of border promise
2015-03-30 19:56
Thousands of migrants could be dumped on Britain’s doorstep if France tears up a historic border agreement, it was claimed last night. Officials have vowed to do “everything in their power” to wriggle out of a treaty moving the UK border to Calais. The besieged town’s mayor Natacha Bouchart is prepared to spark a major diplomatic row by opening the frontier ...
Richard III laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral
2015-03-30 18:36
King Richard III was today laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral - more than 500 years after his death in battle. The monarch, who reigned from 1483 to 1485, was the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem by Carol Ann Duffy during the service. Also in attendance was Robert Lindsay, who played Richard III in a version ...
Sweden - A new paradise for Romani beggars
2015-03-30 17:33
Thanks to the European Union and freedom of movement that follows with membership Sweden has been flooded with gypsies from Eastern Europe. Most member states have cracked down hard on the phenomenon of organized begging with legislation and forceful evictions so the Romani (colloquially known as Gypsies) who are engaged in this venture have moved their business to the country where ...
More News »