Monday, October 13, 2008

Stolen Harvard Map at Sotheby's?

A rare 1612 Champlain map of Canada scheduled to be sold at Sotheby's next month may be the copy missing from Harvard's library, according to news reports. The map, titled "Carte Geographiqve de la Novvelle Franse faictte par le Sievr de Champlain ...," "was the first published map to show Montreal, Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes as a chain of connected waterways." Sotheby's calls it "perhaps the most important single map in the history of Canada." The auction house estimate on the map stands at 30,000-40,000 GBP.

Harvard's copy of the map was discovered missing during the aftermath of the Smiley thefts, and is included in an August 2006 list of missing maps. Smiley did not admit to taking this particular map, but as we know that doesn't necessarily mean he didn't do so. Harvard curators are "comparing the Sotheby's map to a digital image of Houghton's missing map," said a university spokesperson, adding "we may need to send someone to London, to look at the map."

Sotheby's says the map was checked against a database of lost and stolen art before being accepted for sale. Tony Campbell adds "Clearly Sotheby's are unaware of the efforts made to identify and then publicise the maps found missing in those collections visited by Smiley, information brought together by John Woram into a single database. That the large number of those maps still unaccounted for are not also included in the new database, specifically for maps, set up by IAMA, is not for want of urging by Joel Kovarsky, who manages that vital tool in the fight against thefts."

We should know soon enough whether or not this is Harvard's map, provided that they actually do have good digital images of their copy. So, as they say, stay tuned.

No comments: