16th-19th Century Stolen National Library Books Purchased Back in Peru
LIMA — Historical books stolen from the Peruvian National Library, or BNP, among them one dated 1576, have been privately sold, the El Comercio newspaper and library officials said Monday.
The four books from the 16th and 19th centuries, three of them published in Spain and one in Mexico, which number among the most significant holdings of the BNP, were acquired by a collector to prevent their irreplaceable loss, and he reported the case to the daily.
The collector received a visit from a man who offered the valuable books to him but he rejected the deal and threatened to report him to the police. To his surprise, a few days later another person came to visit him and offer to sell him the same books, and it was then that he decided to acquire them to prevent their potential loss.
The collector has not wanted to reveal his name or the amount he paid for the books, but according to an expert quoted by El Comercio, in the case of the older “Papirii Massoni Annalium,” the purchase price could be up to $5,000 on the black market.
“We were familiar with the matter and the case is in the hands of the police,” BNP spokesman Ignacio Arana told Efe, adding that a “mafia … (of) three or four” people are operating in Peru and trafficikng in ancient documents stolen from libraries and historical archives.
Arana said that the theft of the books could be the work of people who pose as researchers to gain access to the classified documents, or even BNP employees who offer their services to the criminal outfits.
The BNP spokesman said that a press conference would be called later or a communique would be issued by the library to shed more light on what happened, but he added that he did not know the total number of documents that have been stolen or have disappeared from the BNP in recent years. EFE