• <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> INCUNABULA -Fridolin, Stephan. <i>Schatzbehalter.</i> With 96 (including 5 repeated) full-page text woodcuts. Nürnberg, 1491.<br>€ 39 470 / 57 020
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Kokoschka, Oskar. <i>Die Träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys).</i> With 11 original lithographs. Vienne, 1908.<br>€ 35 090 / 52 630
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Third Bessarion Master (active in Lombard in the third quarter of the 15th century). Leaf from a gradual, 1455-60.<br>€ 21 930 / 30 700
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Picasso, Pablo - Delgado, José alias Pepe Illo. <i>La Tauromaquia o arte de torear.</i> With 26 original aquatints and 1 original etching by Picasso.<br>€ 21 930 / 35 090
    <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Linschoten, Jan Huygen van. <i>Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien…</i> Amsterdam, 1595.<br>€ 17 540 / 26 320
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> CHILDREN’S BOOKS - Meggendorfer, Lothar. <i>Nah und Fern. Ein Tierbilderbuch zum Ziehen.</i> With 8 coloured, lithographed plates.<br>€ 530 / 790
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> DANSE MACABRE - Bille, Edmond. <i>Une Danse macabre.</i> With 20 coloured woodcuts. Lausanne, 1919. Large folio.<br>€ 610 / 880
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Dexel, Walter. A collection of 7 invitation cards from the Kunstverein Jena, each typographically designed by W. Dexel. Jena, 1924-1928. Each 10.5 x 14.8 cm.<br>€ 530 / 790
  • <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
  • <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 3. Ritter's fascinating sundial world map (1610). $11500 to $13000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 590. Ruscelli's complete, third edition atlas (1574). $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 184. Superb pictorial map of Manhattan (1953). $700 to $850
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 5. Visscher's superb world map in contemporary color (1658). $5500 to $6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 48. Sanson's highly desirable atlas of the Americas with 15 maps (1699). $5500 to $6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 292. Very rare zoomorphic map of Europe during WWII (1939). $1800 to $2100
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 89. Rare map of the new United States prior to signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783). $3000 to $4000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 597. Manuscript geography book with 9 maps and colorful commentary (1834). $1500 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 588. Land grant signed by Confederate General John Buchanan Floyd (1851). $350 to $425
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 593. First printed atlas to contain a separate map of Texas (1835). $2500 to $3250
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 297. Charming Beatles map of Liverpool (1974). $475 to $600
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 591. Miniature atlas with 82 maps based on Duval (1678). $5500 to $6500

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2015 Issue

Operator of Massive Manuscript Business, Claimed Ponzi Scheme, Arrested

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Aristophil website, since closed down.

The owner of an incredible manuscript business has been arrested in France, following the shuttering of his business earlier amid claims that it was a Pyramid (Ponzi) Scheme. The name “Madoff” has been bandied about frequently by the press in connection with the case. The business' operator, Gérard Lhéritier, has vehemently denied the charges.

 

Lhéritier's business, Aristophil, has amassed a manuscript collection almost beyond comprehension. It is claimed to contain around 135,000 manuscripts, housed in storage and in museums in France and Belgium (now closed). It included the will of King Louis XVI, written just before his unsuccessful attempt to flee Paris, André Breton's surrealist manifesto, a large collection of Charles de Gaulle's wartime telegraph drafts, Napoleon's marriage certificate, Albert Einstein's writings while working on the Theory of Relativity. Other names contained in this massive collection include Voltaire, Goethe, Descartes, Tolstoy, Zola, Verne, Mozart, Beethoven, Newton, Pasteur, Edison, Eiffel, seven more French kings besides Louis XVI, Gandhi, Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and many, many more. Recently, the firm had purchased the Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom, the manuscript written while he was imprisoned in the Bastille, for €7 million (pushing US $10 million at the time).

 

The issue was how Lhéritier was financing his purchases. He sold interests in pools of manuscripts to investors. With the use of their money, he would buy at auction, from dealers, or privately. The problem was compounded by his buying at high prices. Some appraisers believed he was way overpaying. However, in so doing, and buying so much, he drove the prices up. This created the appearance of sharply rising prices and values in the field, which reassured investors of the wisdom of their investments and encouraged newcomers to join the party.

 

It has been alleged that Lhéritier promised investors an annual return of at least 8% for a five-year investment. Lhéritier has denied this, and apparently it was not in writing, but at least some investors evidently believed the return was guaranteed. When an investor wanted out, their shares would be repurchased at a healthy gain, again encouraging others to invest. Of course, this is also a basic attribute of a Ponzi scheme.

 

Lhéritier opened Aristophil in 1990, but it was not until the beginning of the new century that the business began to grow into a manuscript behemoth. It then expanded from a few hundred to many thousands of investors and opened its manuscript museums. The current collection was estimated to be worth something in the €500-800 million range, which at the top end could be approaching almost $1 billion. However, this may be a largely inflated value, based on Lhéritier's purchases or estimates. It does appear that cash investments made in the business are in the $1 billion range.

 

In November, a large contingent of officers from France's anti-fraud squad raided the company's headquarters, along with offices in Brussels and Luxembourg, the Paris and Brussels museums, Lhéritier's home, his accountant, several investment advisors, and the office of a bookseller who sold Lhéritier many manuscripts. The business and its assets were all seized, forcing it to close down. Lhéritier objected that he was being forced into bankruptcy without a trial, but the anti-fraud investigators evidently felt the case was such that they needed to act decisively to protect the investors' interests. Aristophil's employees, around 65, were laid off. The firm's website was also shut down.

 

In early March, the long-delayed but inevitable other shoe dropped. Gérard Lhéritier was indicted on suspicion of fraud. His daughter, who managed the collections, and a couple of others were indicted too. The claim is essentially based on what investigators believe is a huge difference in the value of the firm's assets and its declared value. Not surprisingly, investors are upset, some having invested large portions of their savings with Aristophil. If it turns out the assets are worth just a fraction of their declared value, their losses will be substantial, for many life-changing. Even if estimates weren't grossly exaggerated (and the state believes they were), prices were driven up by Aristophil's buying. Selling this material without Lhéritier setting the market is likely to result in significantly reduced prices. Add to that trying to sell these manuscripts in volume and the nature of the mess becomes painfully obvious.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States, pamphlet, 1862. Sold May 7 for $11,875.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. Sold May 7 for $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. Sold May 7 for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. Sold May 7 for $5,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. Sold May 7 for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, silver print, 1968. Sold May 7 for $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> March For Freedom Now!, poster for a protest on the 1960 Republican Convention. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
  • <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> Renaissance Manuscript featuring two Dialogues by Plato, with translation from the Greek and learned discourse by Leonardo Bruni, called Aretino. $200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> Isaac Newton on the plague. Autograph Manuscript, being Newton's notes on reading Van Helmont's "De Peste." $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("A. Einstein"), to "Die 'A.E. Group' in New York" humorously accepting his role as patron saint, and offering a motto for their members. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> LOBACHEVSKY, NIKOLAI. Document Signed ("Lobachevsky"), and accomplished in Manuscript, a letter of designation in his role as Curator of Regional Education in Kazan. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> WITTGENSTEIN, LUDWIG. Autograph Letter Signed ("Ludwig Wittgenstein") to Moritz Schlick discussing Gödel's incompleteness theorems. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. Autograph Letter Signed ("Ch Darwin") to Alexander Agassiz regarding gradation of structure in pediculariæ. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> PAULI, WOLFGANG; BOHM, DAVID. Typed Letter Signed ("W. Pauli") to physicist David Bohm offering his second and final critique of Bohm's hugely influential 1952 paper. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> WHITMAN, WALT. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Walt Whitman"), a draft of the final lines to his final poem "A Thought of Columbus." $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> KANT, IMMANUEL. Autograph Quotation Signed ("Immanuel Kant"), from an album amicorum. <i>"Quod petis in te est, ne te quaesiveris extra."</i> $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> CLEMENS, SAMUEL LANGHORNE. Photograph Signed ("Mark Twain") and Inscribed, with the witty aphorism, "Admonitions—harvested from the wisdom of the ages: Physician, heal thyself. Patient, heel thyself." $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Newton (Sir Isaac). <i>Opticks…,</i> first edition, presentation copy to Nicolas Fatio de Duillier and with his ink and pencil annotations. £300,000 to £400,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Aliotti (Girolamo). <i>Gratulatio ad Pium II pro foelici, ac secundo ex Mantuana peregrinatione reditu…,</i> illuminated manuscript on fine vellum, in Latin, Florence, 1460. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Sangorski (Alberto).- Keats (John). <i>La Belle Dame sans Merci...,</i> illuminated manuscript on vellum, magnificently bound in morocco elaborately tooled in gilt & inlaid with 137 jewels, 1928. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Miniature Book.- Taylor (John). <i>Verbum sempiternum [&] Salvator mundi,</i> 2 parts in 1, contemporary embroidered dos a dos binding, 1614. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Bodoni.- Rossi (Giovanni Gherado de). <i>Scherzi Poetici e Pittorici,</i> with original gouache drawings bound in, Neoclassical red straight-grain morocco, gilt, Parma, Bodoni, 1795. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Palladio (Andrea). <i>I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura,</i> first edition, Venice, Domenico de' Franceschi, 1570. £14,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Voyages.- Lowther (Rear Admiral Marcus, 1820-1908). An album of 166 original watercolours and drawings made on voyages between 1842 and 1853. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection,</i> third edition (seventh thousand), presentation copy to Robert Colgate, John Murray, 1861. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Jane Austen's Family - ?C[ooper] (E[dward], married Jane Leigh (1736-83), sister of Cassandra Leigh (1739-1827), married George Austen (1731-1805), parents of Jane Austen. Miscellanies, poems dated btwn. 1750-88.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Americas.- Herrera y Tordesillas (Antonio). <i>Novus orbis, sive descriptio Indiae occidentalis,</i> 4 parts in 1 vol., Amsterdam, Colijn, 1622. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Canada.- Baker (Lt. Col. Sir Edward). An Eye Sketch of the Fall of Niagara, [c. 1795.] £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Dance.- Caroso (Fabrizio). <i>Il Ballarino,</i> first edition, Venice, Francesco Ziletti, 1581. £5,000 to £7,000.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SUPREME COURT JUSTICES]. A very extensive collection of 203 letters, documents and signatures. A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, JOHN JAY THROUGH WILLIAM REHNQUIST. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ZATTA, Antonio. <i>Atlante Novissimo.</i> Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1775-1785. ONE OF THE FINEST WORLD ATLASES issued in Italy in the 18th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [CHICAGO HISTORY] -- [COLUMBUS, Christopher]. Monumental historiated and embroidered panel of the MADE FOR THE 1893 COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MONASTERY HILL BINDING]. AINSWORTH, William Harrison. <i>Historical Romances.</i> Philadelphia, n.d. A fine early exhibition binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM]. New York: Tiber Press, [1960]. 4 volumes. LIMITED EDITION, number 119 of 200 COPIES, EACH SIGNED BY THE POET AND ARTIST. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> GRATIANUS, the Canonist. <i>Decretum.</i> Venedig: Petrus de Plasiis, 25 January 1483. Second quarto edition. FIRST PAGE ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABOLITIONISTS]. <i>William Lloyd Garrison. The Story of his Life.</i> New York, 1885. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM SEVERAL NOTABLE ABOLITIONISTS neatly bound in throughout. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ANSON, George. <i>A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740... 1744.</i> London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748. FIRST EDITION. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> Blank railroad ledger, "Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest" (spine title). N.p., 1909. A MONUMENTAL 20th-CENTURY ART NOUVEAU BINDING. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MINIATURE ROOM] -- [FLEMING, John (1910-1987)]. Miniature of his 57th Street Library and Gallery. JOHN F. FLEMING'S BARONIAL 57TH STREET GALLERY. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE BINDING]. CHESTERTON, G.K. <i>Five Types: A Book of Essays.</i> London, 1910. LIMITED EDITION, number 3 of 30 copies on vellum SIGNED BY GEORGE SUTCLIFFE. $400 to $500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. <i>When Adam Delved and Eve Span....</i> [Ancoats Brotherhood, 1894-5]. LIMITED EDITION, one of 250 copies printed. $500 to $700.

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