Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2016 Issue

Destructive Book Thief Convicted Again

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Andrew Shannon "accidentally" bumps into $10 million painting.

A 51-year-old Irish man has been convicted of possessing 67 stolen books, taken from an ancient estate in Kildare. Andrew Shannon is a man with a checkered past. He is the type of person the word "incorrigible" was invented to describe. He has reportedly been convicted dozens of times over the years on charges relating to stolen merchandise, generally antiques and various old and collectible items. In 2011, he was convicted of handling stolen maps dating back to 1651.

 

This conviction covered 67 books taken prior to 2007 from Carton House, an old estate once home to the FitzGerald family. The estate was purchased by a company in 1977, and at one point, the company owner's son was called in to pack up the books in the library. A restoration was planned. He photographed each one. When the books were unpacked in 2007, he discovered that 67 of them were gone. The police were contacted.

 

The books were later found in Mr. Shannon's home. They were identified from the photographs and the FitzGerald family crest on the spines and inside covers of many of them. The most notable was a 1660 edition of the King James Bible, one of only six copies known to exist. The estate's representative testified that they never sold or loaned any of the books from the FitzGerald library. Shannon denied stealing them, or knowing they were stolen.

 

Mr. Shannon claimed that he bought the books for a small amount at a fair. He said he did not believe they were of significant value, pointing out that he never sold them. Nor did he read them, Shannon not being a reader. He said he bought them because they looked nice, and he used them to decorate his home. The jury was unconvinced and convicted him.

 

Perhaps his history made Shannon's defense dubious to the jury. He had been convicted of stealing artifacts from six English castles and estates a few years earlier. He was caught while sneaking around the yard of one of them. At the time, Shannon explained he was merely trying to find a bathroom, but that did not adequately explain why he had some of the estate's property tucked under his coat. Neither did it explain why he had the six estates' locations entered into his GPS system, each one of which reported property missing.

 

Still, it is not these crimes for which Andrew Shannon is best known in his native land. One would think that someone involved in stealing would try to keep a low profile, draw as little attention to himself as possible. Evidently, he did not feel that way, and was convicted a couple of years ago for a crime that is hard to explain.

 

On June 29, 2012, Shannon walked into the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. His every move was captured by an array of security cameras placed in every room. Shannon walked over to a Monet painting that was on display. He looked at it, left, and returned a short time later. Suddenly, he lunged forward, his fist striking the painting with sufficient force to set off alarms across the room. The point of contact was above his eye level. The Monet, valued at over $10 million, was left with a large tear near the center.

 

Shannon had an explanation that time too. He suffers from a heart condition, and claimed he had a fainting spell, that somehow made his arm reach up in the air and pound a gaping hole into the painting before he crumpled to the ground, complaining about his heart. Fortunately, the spell was short-lived as a paramedic who checked his vital signs found nothing wrong. Nor was Shannon down on the ground for long, recovering surprisingly quickly. An aspirin and he was as good as new.

 

Witnesses testified that Shannon struck the painting with a blow that looked deliberate, and the surveillance video could certainly be interpreted that way. His physician testified that Shannon later underwent quadruple bypass surgery, but also acknowledged that only 1% of patients with the condition suffer from dizzy spells, and those that do would be unlikely to get up again so quickly. It also was probably not helpful to his case that he was carrying a can of paint stripper into a museum filled with paintings. Shannon explained he had it because he restores furniture.

 

Amazingly, the first trial ended in a hung jury. The second jury perhaps had more common sense. Shannon was convicted of damaging the painting and sentenced to six years in prison. Now, he may well get a few more.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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