Thefts Germany

Munich auctioneer arrested over historic library thefts in Naples

Italy seeks extradition of Zisska & Schauer's director; auction house calls accusations "absurd"

The Biblioteca dei Girolamini is one of Italy's most important libraries

The case of the huge book theft at the 16th-century Biblioteca dei Girolamini in Naples has been linked to a Munich auction house. Herbert Schauer, the executive director of Zisska & Schauer, was arrested on 2 August after an extradition request from Italy. The extradition is connected with the theft of books from the famous Italian library and he is due to appear at court in Munich later this month for a first hearing.

In a statement on the Zisska & Schauer website it says that the company is “deeply shocked” by the arrest, calling accusations against Schauer “preposterous, absurd and totally groundless”.

Bavarian police questioned the ownership of four books due to be sold at Zisska & Schauer in May 2012, part of a consignment of 400 books of private Italian ownership. “After careful scrutiny of the owners' official credentials and the books themselves we said we were ready to accept the consignment,” the auction house said in the statement. But after being contacted by the police, the consignment was pulled from the auction, “to be on the safe side”. The works that were initially suspected of coming from the Girolamini library are still in Munich and no evidence has been offered to prove that they were stolen, the company stressed.

The Biblioteca dei Girolamini was shut in April last year after the discovery that hundreds of antique books from the library were missing. Marino Massimo De Caro, the former director, along with four others, was arrested under suspicion of embezzlement. De Caro later admitted to stealing books. The stolen items are thought to have been sold in Munich, London, New York, Tokyo and even as far afield as Argentina.

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