Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2018 Issue

Preliminary Hearing Held in $8 Million Book Theft Case

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Unsent email allegedly prepared by John Schulman.

A preliminary hearing was held at the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in the case of the $8 million theft of books and maps from Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library. Two individuals, library archivist Gregory Priore and Pittsburgh area bookseller John Schulman, have been charged with the crime. The next step, a formal arraignment, has been scheduled for November 29. Meanwhile, it is expected there will be meetings between the defendants' lawyers and the District Attorney to hammer out common understandings about the parameters of the case if not a settlement of charges.

 

The Carnegie Library theft was not a one-time event. It continued over a period of almost two decades. Archivist Priore has already admitted to the process of sneaking numerous books out of the library with no intention of returning them. He claims he delivered them to Schulman, who in turn sold them through the Caliban Book Shop, only a block away. Books that have been traced to the Carnegie Library ended up with other dealers and collectors who purchased them from Caliban. Prints removed from books were also sold on eBay. Some were found in Caliban's inventory. Schulman's attorney has hinted at one possible defense for his client, that Schulman was unaware that Priore had improperly removed them from the Carnegie Library. In at least one case, Schulman had explained to a bookseller to whom he had sold a Carnegie book that it had been properly deaccessioned from the library.

 

Perhaps in anticipation of or in response to this line of defense, the District Attorney presented email correspondence to the court during this latest hearing. One may have sounded particularly incriminatory. It was said to have been written by Schulman. However, the email was never actually sent to anyone. Dated March 15, 2017, it shows as having been sent by Schulman to himself, possibly to save it for future use. It reads as if it were a list of suggestions or instructions on how to cover up a book theft. The presumed/alleged eventual intended recipient was Priore, though there is no mention of his name or position at the library. The timing of the email coincides with the audit the library was taking of its rare book collection, which turned up the fact that many valuable books were missing.

 

The unsent email offers eight possible actions. The first says to create a list dated 12 years earlier, with updates, of books discovered missing from the shelves. Some would be the titles of stolen books, other would not. Some would say they were misshelved and found, others still missing. Another suggested revising a 1991 appraisal to remove some of the stolen books, implying they were already missing much earlier. Another said to note that local booksellers, Caliban included, had been notified of missing books and saying the library markings would make them "practically unsaleable."

 

Moving on, a suggestion says to emphasize the porousness of the Oliver (rare books) Room, how many people have keys, sometimes the door isn't locked, and so on. Other suggestions were that some books might be out for repair, loaned to other parts of the museum, and that some may have been misplaced as a result of the closing of part of the facility years earlier.

 

Again, we need to emphasize there is no indication this email was ever sent to Mr. Priore nor a concession from Mr. Schulman that he actually wrote it. The authenticity or explanation of it will need to be determined at a later date. The District Attorney presented other emails involving the parties. In one directed to a different person at the library, Schulman purportedly shows an interest in purchasing books the library no longer wants, but not ones with deaccession or other library stamps as they have lost almost all of their value.

 

Along with maintaining that Mr. Schulman was not aware that Priore was illegally removing books from the library, his attorney has indicated that he believes the $8 million price tag is grossly inflated. He believes that the number and value of missing books is much smaller, and he hopes to work with the District Attorney to determine a more accurate figure. At that point, he indicated, he is hopeful that a resolution of the entire matter may be reached.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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