Library's Rare Books Manager Charged in $8M Heist

Stolen items were allegedly transferred to a local book shop owner, sold
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2018 8:07 AM CDT
Library's Rare Books Manager Charged in $8M Heist
The Caliban Book Shop, owned by John Schulman, is pictured.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

When appraisers discovered $8 million in rare books missing from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, investigators knew where to turn. As archivist and manager of the William R. Oliver Special Collections Room for 25 years, Gregory Priore let visitors in—and, allegedly, let some 320 items out. According to police, Priore, 61, agreed to sell stolen titles, maps, and plates, along with pages from 16 books, to John Schulman, owner of rare book store Caliban. Authorities say Priore received $100,000 in checks from Caliban and $17,000 in cash between 2010 and 2017, when the thefts were uncovered, per Pitt News. After missing items were found to have been sold by Caliban, a warehouse search uncovered 42 stolen items worth $260,000, according to police. A copy of a book by Isaac Newton, valued at more than $800,000, has also been recovered.

"Greed came over me," Priore allegedly told investigators of what the Washington Post calls one of the largest library thefts in history, involving a still-missing book by George Washington and another signed by Thomas Jefferson. According to an affidavit, Priore said he first suggested the scheme in the 1990s to Schulman, who'd legally purchased other items from the library, "but Schulman spurred me on." The 54-year-old Schulman, whose shop is a block from the library, requested specific items from Priore, per police. Both men were charged last week with multiple counts, including theft, conspiracy, and forgery. Schulman has also had his bank accounts frozen, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In a statement, the Carnegie Library says it is "deeply disappointed that two people we knew well and trusted are at the center of this case." (Book thieves also rappel from skylights.)

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