July 24, 2012
By Patricia Cohen from The New York Times
Wytfliet’s was the earliest printed atlas of the Americas. Photo by: Marilynn K. Yee from The New York Times
He was entrusted to guard Sweden’s cultural heritage, but instead this senior librarian spent years surreptitiously stealing and selling scores of its rare and precious books. When the thief, Anders Burius, was finally caught in 2004, the media called him the “Royal Library Man,” and his sensational crime and subsequent suicide became the subjects of a government inquiry, a radio documentary and, last year, a television mini-series.
Now, for the first time, one of the missing books — the earliest printed atlas of the Americas — has been recovered by Sweden’s Royal Library after a librarian there noticed that it was being offered for sale last year by a New York map dealer, W. Graham Arader III.
The recovery, which is to be announced by Swedish officials in Manhattan on Wednesday, may shake loose some of the other stolen books, said Jerker Ryden, the library’s senior legal adviser.