Saturday, June 19, 2010

Updates from the Scott Trial

Lots of media attention for the Raymond Scott trial, which has featured the first public display of the Durham First Folio (as evidence) since it was stolen in 1998. Prosecutors maintain that Scott "damaged, brutalised, and mutilated" the book (removing the binding, the frontispiece, and the final page) in an attempt to disfigure it enough that experts wouldn't be able to identify it. They suggest that Scott stole the book and stashed it in his mother's house for a decade, but after accruing rather serious credit card debts hatched a plan to sell the volume.

According to media reports, prosecutors have presented evidence that Scott (now 53), his Cuban girlfriend, and retired Cuban Army commandant Deni Mareno Leon planned to split profits from the sale of the stolen book. And some new details have emerged about Scott's sudden visit to the Folger in 2008 - "Claiming to be a multimillionaire who had inherited a construction business from his father, he told the center's experts that the book had been handed to him by the family of a former major in the Cuban army. Unable to travel to America themselves, the dead major's children simply wanted the folio authenticated. In an attempt to prove his fabulous wealth, Scott handed over a $3,000 donation to the library, gave its shocked director two bow ties and bought the staff a large cake, said prosecutor Robert Smith QC."

Once Folger staff had told him that he had a Folio, Scott allegedly "offered $10,000 (£6,750) a year in perpetuity to the library from the proceeds" of the sale. When expert Stephen Massey had concluded that the Folio was the copy stolen from Durham, Scott apparently offered him a cut of the profits in exchange for his silence.

The trial continues, and is now estimated to last around four weeks.

And then there are the newspaper reports which continue to refer to the Folio as a "manuscript." Sigh.

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