The Real Book Thieves of London

atkins-bookshelf-booksOn January 30, 2017, an intrepid gang of book thieves climbed a warehouse, located near Heathrow airport in London, containing millions of dollars of rare books from three London book dealers, bound for the California International Antiquarian Book Fair. The book thieves bored holes through three skylines and rappelled down a 40 foot rope, carefully avoiding an array of motion sensors. Once on the warehouse floor, the three thieves located and pried open several sealed containers; they spent hours going through all the inventory to find 160 specific books and manuscripts — presumably following a list provided by someone very knowledgeable about antiquarian books. The thieves then used a ladder to climb down and placed the books in a waiting escape van. The value of the stolen books? A cool $2.5 million. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Brian Lake of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association remarked “Quite honestly I have never heard of a heist like this involving books – it is extraordinary. Nothing like this has hit the rare books trade before.” Another shocked source added, “‘It is unbelievably rare to have so many books seized in one go.”

The thieves will most likely sell the rare books to a dealer or middleman, who in turn, will sell them to a private collector. Sadly, these precious, rare books — for example Nicolaus Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus Erbium Coelestium (1566) worth $270,000a 1569 edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and rare works by Galileo and Newton will never be seen again, unless they are discovered by law enforcement. To help recover stolen rare books, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers established a website that list all the books, manuscripts, maps, and prints that have been stolen.

Read related posts: Most Expensive American Book
Most Expensive Books in the Scientific World

The World’s Most Expensive Book
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The Most Expensive Books Sold in 2014
The Most Expensive Books Sold in 2012

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