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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Progress of recovery of maps stolen from the national library of Sweden

An interesting e-mail from the national map librarian of Sweden:

10 years ago, the manuscript librarian was caught stealing rare books from the National library and selling them at Ketterer Kunst, an auction house in Germany. The day he was confronted, he went home, turned on the gas and blew himself up. The Swedish National Library was so embarrassed that they did not report the theft or make a list of the books that were stolen. The book I bought was a first issue of the 1597 Wytfliet Atlas of America.

 It came to me in the following way:

1. Manuscript librarian steals it.
2. Gives it to Ketterer Kunst who pays librarian his proceeds in cash.
3. Purchased at Ketterer Kunst auction by Bruce Marshall.
4. Bruce put the book up at Sothebys London and recommends to me that I buy it without telling me that he was the owner!
5. I bought it for $100,000 12 years ago.
6. 2 years ago the National Librarian sends me an image of the title page and we discover that it is a match. The book is now worth $500,000.  We return the book.
7. A year ago the FBI comes to me and tells me that I am the only one to cooperate and do the right thing.  All the other buyers had "lost" their records or were paid in "cash" or just didn't remember!!!!!
8. The national library hires a NYC law firm to help them get the books back but their bills are so high that they are dropped by the Swedish government quickly.  But not so quickly that the law firm takes credit for recovering the Wytfliet atlas even though they were hired AFTER I had already agreed to return the book.

This is a book for sure.


Here is Greger Bergvall's (Map Librarian of National Library of Sweden) report to me of further developments in the recovery process. 

We always do the right thing but it is frustrating that no one else ever does.

The most interesting part of this story was that the FBI didn't want to talk about this but when they left they "forgot" their notebooks and everything that I had surmised was correct.  Amazing.

Here is Greger Bergvall's report:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Greger Bergvall
Date: Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 4:30 PM
Subject: SV: NYC
To: graham arader <grahamarader@gmail.com>

Dear Graham, both Hill and Lan was at the ceremony today. Hill was angry at the library for not putting out a list in initially. Off course we should have done that but we did not have a list of all the books that he had stolen until a house search at Ketterer Kunst in the autumn of 2005. And at that time the books had already been sold.
I talked to Lan and Hill who both said that they had lost money due to this affair and I told them that you had lost 400 000 usd on the Wytfliet atlas which you returned right away and they had little understanding for this since that you got money back from Sothebys which they surprisingly knew. I told them that Ketterer are the ones who they should turn their efforts against rather than the National library of Sweden and they admitted that Ketterer were the bad guys but Hill still does business with them.
Both Lan and Hill bought more of the books that was stolen from us which they off course made a profits on which should ease their loss.
Hill also bought Huygens, Systema Saturnium, and Bernoullis Hydrodynamica from Ketterer Kunst and those books we will probably never see again.
Lan also bought Champlains, Voyages et descouvertures faites en la Nouvelle France… and Stevin, Problematum geometricorum. In gratiam D.
Maximiliani, domini a Cruningen &c. editorum, libri V from Ketterer Kunst.

Leaving for Stockholm in an hour so this was a short report of the events today.

Best wishes,


Greger Bergvall
Handskrifter, kartor och bilder/Manuscripts, maps and pictures
Kungl. biblioteket, The National library of Sweden
P.O. Box 5039, SE - 102 41 Stockholm Sweden

Från: graham arader [mailto:grahamarader@gmail.com]
Skickat: den 17 juni 2015 14:12
Till: Greger Bergvall
Ämne: Re: NYC

Thank you Greger.

It was very good to see you as well.  

If you get a chance it would mean a lot to me to tell Johnathan Hill that I took a $400,000 loss and that I did the right thing right away.  

I would VERY much like to hear from you.

Thank you,


On Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 7:48 AM, Greger Bergvall wrote:

Dear Graham, I´m leaving for Sweden today after the ceremony at the Districts attorney. Jonathan Hill will be there but not Richard Lan.
Thanks for meeting me despite short notice and the beautiful trip to Nyack, it was a very nice break and a chance to see your amazing garden and also to meet your nice daughter.
I will keep in touch with you and inform you if something interesting is happening on the other side of the Atlantic ocean.
Good luck with the business.

Best regards,

Greger Bergvall
Handskrifter, kartor och bilder/Manuscripts, maps and pictures
Kungl. biblioteket, The National library of Sweden
P.O. Box 5039, SE - 102 41 Stockholm Sweden

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