ICE returns stolen Christopher Columbus letter to Spain


ICE, which investigates looted cultural heritage and stolen art work, and the Division of Justice labored on the case after receiving a tip in 2011 that a number of manually printed copies of the letter had been stolen from European libraries.

Often called the Catalonia Plannck II Columbus Letter, it accommodates the explorer’s 1493 account of his discoveries, addressed to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Solely about 80 copies of all editions have survived.

Investigators realized that one of many copies had been stolen from the Nationwide Library of Catalonia in Barcelona and decided in 2012, that the one on the library was a solid copy.

The stolen letter had been bought for about $1 million in June 2011, according to ICE.

The one that had the letter volunteered to switch it after “in depth negotiations with the US Legal professional’s Workplace for the District of Delaware,” ICE stated.

Consultants examined the doc and located {that a} chemical had been used to bleach the ink of the library’s stamp and that the unique paper fibers had been disturbed. It was additionally decided that the letter was “past all doubt” the unique that was stolen from the Nationwide Library of Catalonia.

“I’m happy to have the ability to return a priceless piece of cultural property to its rightful house owners,” Alysa D. Erichs, the Homeland Safety Investigations appearing deputy government affiliate director, stated in a press release.

US has returned a Columbus letter earlier than

That is the second time that the US has returned a stolen Columbus letter to a European nation.

In 2016, the US returned an eight-page copy that had been stolen from a library in Florence, Italy, and donated to an unsuspecting US Library of Congress. The letter from Italy is believed to have been stolen and changed with forgery in about 1950.

That doc was consigned in late 1992 to a New York public sale home by a rare-book supplier who bought it two years earlier than “from an unknown entity.” A personal purchaser paid $300,000 in November 1992 and donated the merchandise to the Library of Congress in 2004, the place it had remained.

Federal investigators took custody of it in March 2014 and had additional testing carried out. It confirmed a chemical was additionally used to bleach the ink of the Italian library’s stamp. The US returned the doc, which was a duplicate printed in Latin by Stephan Plannck.

ICE has returned greater than 11,000 artifacts to over 30 nations, the company stated.

CNN’s Livia Borghese and Phil Gast contributed to this report.

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