A Letter by ILAB President Arnoud Gerits
Please read the following message carefully: it concerns a massive theft from an important library in Italy. As soon as more information becomes available we will inform you. Committee member Norbert Donhofer and Italian President Fabrizio Govi are working very hard to get all the necessary information, but in the meantime we must advise everyone to be careful and cautious.
Shortly after the reopening of the Girolamini Library in Naples in April of 2012 the Director, Marino Massimo de Caro, announced that 1500 books were missing (April 17). On April 20 the Library was closed by the Naples Public Prosecutor. Marino Massimo de Caro has been suspended and was investigated for embezzlement. On May 18, 1000 books, 240 of which have ownership stamps from the Girolamini Library were found in storage in Massimo Marino de Caro’s home city of Verona, and on May 24 Mr. de Caro was arrested on the charge of embezzlement along with four others; a search warrant is out for a fifth. In the meantime Massimo Marino de Caro has confessed to the theft of thousands of books from the library and is cooperating with police in tracing them.
A number of stolen items from the library have been confiscated by the authorities in Munich (16 items), London (28 items), New York and Tokyo (uncertain numbers).
According to what is currently known and what Massimo Marino de Caro has confessed so far, it is very likely that the number of stolen books from the Girolamini Library is higher than 1500 but no definitive list of missing items has been published by Italian authorities so far. It appears also to be clear that the stolen books were spread out via the trade in several countries, in both Europe and elsewhere.
A number of the books can be recognized by a red library stamp (with a Madonna in the center) but not all books bear this stamp.
Italian authorities have requested assistance from the public prosecutor’s offices in several countries so far. They have also asked Interpol headquarters at Lyon, France, for assistance.
We would therefore strongly advise our members to check their purchases of – mostly – Italian books from the 15th to the 17th centuries if these volumes were purchased in the time period between January to May of 2012.
We will provide our members with a list of stolen books from the Girolamini Library as soon as Italian authorities have published such a document. This is the direct contact to the Italian authorities.
Carabinieri Comando Tutela Patrimonio Culturale
Via Anicia 22
00155 Roma – Italia
phone +39 06 585631 / fax +39 06 58563200 / email firstname.lastname@example.org
The responsible officer in charge is Colonello Raffaele Mancino. This gentleman knows who we are, what we are doing and he greatly appreciates our efforts.
Please keep also in mind that the stolen books were not only spread out to auction houses and the trade by Marino Massimo de Caro and his helpers, who have been arrested meanwhile, but also by other persons who simply had been used by De Caro and his gang. It is therefore thinkable that trustworthy persons have offered books to you!
Arnoud Gerits (ILAB President)