Heritage experts gather to tackle the rise in theft of historic books, maps and manuscripts from national libraries. The Girolami library in Naples had thousands of volumes, including a 1518 edition of Thomas More's Utopia, stolen by its own director.
In Britain the so-called "tome raider" stole from the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley Library, and a thief stole 50 of the world's rarest maps from the National Library of Wales.
Viewed by experts as a global epidemic, the theft and illicit traficking in rare books and manuscripts are believed to threaten the recorded history of mankind.
The conference entitled "The Written Heritage of Mankind in Peril", organized by the The Institute of Art and Law, the Union Internationale des Avocats and the British Library, is designed to address the problems raised and develop solutions to prevent widespread theft and trafficking and restore stolen items to their rightful owners
Prices for legitimate sales have soared. The 1640 Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in British North America, was sold by Sotheby's for a record GB £8.73 million in November 2013.
Date written/update: 2015-05-22