Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2018 Issue

The Unending Circle: Recidivist Book Thief Goes Straight from Jail to Custody

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Caught on camera - Andrew Shannon punches $10 million painting and falls to the floor.

Book thief most unusual Andrew Shannon is headed back to his home country of Ireland after a brief interlude spent in England. He has returned in the company of Irish gendarmes after being released as a guest of the state in the United Kingdom. He was released from a short stint as a British house guest after his term for burglary expired. Shannon's freedom did not last long, as Irish police were there to greet him.

 

Shannon is what is known in the trade as a recidivist. Reportedly he has been arrested over 50 times, convicted 35 times. After a while, it is hard to keep track. Along with being an incorrigible thief, he is evidently not a very good one. Covering your tracks is not one of Mr. Shannon's strong points. Nor is he one to learn from his mistakes. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

 

Shannon is not a book-stealing specialist. He will take anything that is not tied down. It's just that during his most recent times in his native country, he was convicted of stealing 57 books from Carton House, once the estate of the FitzGerald family. The most notable was one of only six known copies of a 1660 edition of the King James Bible. When the books were found in Shannon's home, he explained that he purchased them for a small price at a fair. He did not sell them nor read them, saying he bought them because they looked nice on his shelves. Neither the police nor the jury believed him. Undoubtedly, his past record didn't help, and the owner of Carton house had photographed the books when he put them in storage during a renovation project. Identification was easy.

 

Nor was this the first time Shannon had been caught stealing from castles and estates. A few years earlier, he was picked up wandering around the grounds of a large estate. Shannon claimed he was merely looking for a bathroom. However, this did not adequately explain why he had some of the estate's property tucked under his coat. Nor did it explain why he had six such estates' locations entered in his GPS locator, each of which reported missing property.

 

However, it was none of these fifty-something thefts, nor even all of them put together, that made Shannon a celebrity in the annals of Irish crime. Rather, it was a crime that made no sense at all. On June 12, 2012, Shannon entered the National Gallery in Dublin. While a bevy of security cameras rolled, he walked over to a Claude Monet painting, Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, valued at a cool $10 million. He looked at it, but no, did not attempt to steal it. Rather he walked away. A short time later he returned, and suddenly, lunged at the painting, punching a hole in it. He then collapsed to the floor, quickly to be revived.

 

Shannon claimed his heart condition caused him to have a fainting spell. However, this did not really explain why his fist rose up above eye level and punched a hole in the painting. His doctor explained to the jury that Shannon had indeed had quadruple bypass surgery. Still, he also admitted under cross-examination that only 1% of such patients suffer dizzy spells, nor could he explain thrusting his fist up into the painting, nor how he was able to completely recover so quickly. It also most likely was unhelpful in the jury's eyes that Shannon had carried a can of paint stripper with him into an art museum filled with paintings.

 

So now, Shannon is back in Ireland, this time to face the music concerning an art theft. In this case, he was found with a bunch of paintings in his home, which he neither purchased nor painted himself. One was specifically tracked to a hotel in County Cork. Coincidentally enough, he was staying there at the time the painting was stolen. He will undoubtedly spend a little time in prison, and then be released back onto the street again. From there, we guess he will go visit another town, or another house, maybe even yours.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>
  • <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.

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