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Saturday, June 2, 2012

What all good book dealers do when a call comes for cooperation with an FBI agent.

Here is a report written by Mike Foley, my lawyer and partner at Arader Galleries and me about a recent event.

Met with you, Kate Hunter, Agent John Iannuzzi and Agent Adam Roesser of the FBI.
They are investigating the theft of books from the Swedish National Library over a ten year period prior to 2004 by the head of the rare books and manuscripts division, who confessed, left a list of books he had allegedly stolen over ten years then committed suicide.
The Swedish National Library kept the news of this theft secret for ten years.  No question that it was absolutely a disgraceful cover up on the part of the existing librarian.  Finally, with my brutal prodding the Swedish National Library is admitting to the theft and listing the books that have been stolen.  Some of the librarians at the Swedish National Library are going to book selling web sites and trying to find out which dealers have in their current stock examples of the books that were stolen.  They then gave this information to the FBI and the FBI is now questioning the dealers that have been identified by the Swedish National Library as having some examples of the books that were stolen from them.
About a year ago the Swedish National Library asked us directly about a Wytfliet atlas that we bought at Sotheby and we immediately agreed with him that their copy was the one that was stolen.  The trail of the book was from the Manuscript Librarian who stole it to Ketterer Kunst Auction House to Bruce Marshall  to Sothebys London where it was purchased by my for $100,000 about ten years ago.  We returned it to Sothebys and they are in the process of returning it to the Swedish National Library.  However, they gave me a $100,000 credit immediately.  That is why they are the finest auction house in the world.

During our meeting with the FBI agents they told us that the Manuscript Librarian told the authorities that all of the books he took all had stamps or marks identifying them as library property, and that he attempted to remove the marks with the use of sophisticated chemicals or other means.  
Apparently all sold through Ketterer Kunst auction house. 
Kate demonstrated convincingly that the books they asked about all lacked markings of signs of removed markings (two examples of the Catherwood, three examples of the Scott, and one example of the Lewis book)
She also provided our purchase data for all of these items, including original receipts for all but the Lewis; in that case, the auction record itself identified Graham Arader as the purchaser.
So, all of the books we showed the FBI were either acquired by Graham Arader prior to the date they were purportedly stolen from the Swedish Library, or had no evidence at all of the removal of stamps or marks, or both.

Very simply this is the only way to behave if you are a book dealer.   During our meeting it became obvious to us that there are book dealers that "forgot" where they sold the books.  They are lying.  No good bookseller ever forgets where he sold books like this.  You would have to go on the LAN with behavior like this or people would think you were trying to be a Martayan.

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