Saturday, September 01, 2007

Update: Madrid Map Thefts

Last week I briefly noted the apparent theft of two maps from a 1482 copy of Ptolemy's Cosmographia housed in the collections of Spain's National Library in Madrid. Today the Times reports that library head Rosa Regàs has resigned in the wake of the thefts, which seem to go beyond the maps: "Police who searched the hall, which is restricted to professional researchers, found pages torn from four other books, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries."

Ms. Regàs "accused the Culture Minister, César Antonio Molina, and the press of running a smear campaign against her," and "told reporters that police had asked the library not to divulge information about the losses for fear of hurting the investigation, before volunteering that they had identified the culprit," the Times report notes. " Ms Regàs said that she had been made a scapegoat for the loss, adding that other libraries around the world had suffered similar thefts."

Regàs told the press that the suspect is "an Argentinian researcher, ... who was authorised by the Spanish Ambassador in Argentina and had already fled. The Spanish Ambassador [in Buenos Aires] promptly denied the accusation."

In an ExLibris post, Everett Wilkie also points out this story from yesterday's Independent, which notes "The embarrassment of the thefts in a library with a supposedly hi-tech security system led deputies in the Spanish Congress to ask questions about the whole affair."

I think there are at least a few shoes left to drop in this case, so we'll have to wait and see how things shake out.