A Bookseller's Dream, A Book Seller's Nightmare
The ABA, through its president, Alan Shelley, responded in a letter to the London Times. After relieving themselves of any responsibility for the mess by pointing out that Thornton is not an ABA member, and that their three responding members were ignored by the library, he writes, "If one of our members purchased a book from a private individual, estate, or library, and subsequently discovered it to be of significantly higher value than thought, we would certainly expect that member to make adequate restitution to the original owner." Of course that is the honorable thing to do, though perhaps easier said than done. One wonders how many of their members, confronted with a similar "unfortunate" situation, would give up their ABA membership instead of the million dollars.
As for Thornton, he is said to be retiring to the country. At 74 years of age, retirement makes perfect sense, and now he should be able to do so in comfort. Meanwhile, the library is reported to have consulted counsel to see what their options are. I don't know how British law deals with such situations, but perhaps the trustees should start by suing themselves.