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Lost and Found

I know that my previous article is about a similar incident, and I usually don’t cover the same subject for two articles in a row; but I think this one is worthy of recognition. When someone steals something from the library, it’s probably for a couple of CDs to pirate the music, or maybe the most dangerous bibliophile on the planet is on the loose. A burglary at a library is especially interesting when over $600,000 in property is stolen. $600,000 can buy a lot of books. And someone did break into the Boston Public Library, but a lot more than some books were stolen.



An etching by Rembrandt and an engraving by Albrecht Dürer were stolen from the Boston Public Library several weeks ago. The Rembrandt etching is a self-portrait, valued at $20,000 to $30,000. The Dürer engraving, however, is one of Dürer’s most famous works, one showing Adam and Eve, worth about $600,000. The Boston Public Library received a huge amount of media attention in the art world for this: the FBI was called in, and the library president, Amy Ryan, had to resign because of the criticism surrounding the disappearance of the prints.

The Boston Public Library houses over 200,000 pieces of art in its archive, including many more by Rembrandt and Dürer, as well as pieces by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, John Singer Sargent, and Edwin Austin Abbey. So, the Boston Public Library and the Boston police have said that it is possible that the works could have been stolen long before the theft was reported. Taking this into account, many periodicals have speculated that this was an inside job. Don’t worry. They’ve already been found.


Apparently, the pieces were misplaced and now everyone can go about their business. But I’m not too sure about this. How in the hell can you just “misplace” a Rembrandt in the same way that you can lose your car keys. Or forget where you left your Dürer engraving like you don’t know where your phone is. Turns out the pieces were filed in the wrong place… but only a few steps away from where they were supposed to be. I guess it’s always the last rock you look under. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

About Nathan Scheer

Nathan Scheer is contributor to The Artoholic and a webmaster for TheArtExperts.org, who is currently studying History and International Studies at Elon University in North Carolina. He has also worked for Rehs Galleries, Inc. and Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., which specialize in 19th and 20th Century European paintings and contemporary academic paintings, respectively, as well as Christie's Rockefeller Center.


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