Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Raymond Scott Keeps Talking

He's going to be one of those gifts that keeps on giving, isn't he? Raymond Scott, the accused thief of Durham University's First Folio, continues to grant interviews, and now he's writing letters to newspaper editors too. The Northern Echo reports that Scott sent a letter there reiterating his innocence and calling for Durham University to sell off its entire rare book collection.

Scott: "Durham University just want yet another rare book to salt away in their ivory tower, for no one who is not part of the university can enter its hallowed portals. Apparently the £15m Shakespeare book is just the tip of a gargantuan iceberg of rare books hoarded by them, miser fashion, while pleading poverty and the parsimony of Government grants. Sold on the open market, these redundant relics would raise billions, yes, thousands of millions of pounds, which could benefit the university itself and the people of County Durham (I live in Tyne and Wear, alas) which is still a deprived area. I think any fair-minded person will find this morally repugnant. I say 'Free The Books'."


At least now he's calling it a book, although he seems to have caught the contagion of declaring its worth at £15m (we think this got started when some media outlet accidentally left out a decimal point - a closer approximation of the book's value would be £1.5m, which is probably still way too high an estimate for the Durham copy in its present, much-vandalized state).

Scott has also "called for police to return the book to him so he can auction it and donate a quarter of the proceeds to charity." In other recent Scott-news, the Daily Mail reports that his Cuban fiancee maintains that their November wedding will be going ahead as scheduled, and that Scott threw a party over the weekend to celebrate the "first week of being released, so far without charge."

While I agree with Travis and Scott Brown (whose Fine Books Blog post on the case is today's must-read) that Scott almost certainly wasn't the original thief of the Durham copy, he's certainly in it up to his armpits now.

Also, a quick note on the authentication process, as reported in the Washington Post. Stephen Massey, the former Christie's exec who authenticated the Durham copy at the Folger, checked the details of the Durham copy: "From a published census with detailed descriptions of existing First Folios, Massey knew the exact dimensions of the Durham First Folio. He knew that the table of contents had a handwritten notation in ink saying "Troilus and Cressida," beneath the printed title "Henry VIII." He knew the title leaf with the portrait of Shakespeare was missing.
All these details checked out, he said. The last page, which contained details that could prove the folio was the stolen Durham volume, was missing." So from this, it would seem that the title page was already missing (if anybody's got a copy of the published census and can verify this, I'd appreciate it).

More to come, no doubt!