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The Written Heritage of Mankind in Peril: Theft, Retrieval, Sale and Restitution of Rare Books, Maps and Manuscripts

The Written Heritage of Mankind in Peril: Theft, Retrieval, Sale and Restitution of Rare Books, Maps and Manuscripts

ILAB President Norbert Donhofer speaks at the international conference in the British Library (London)


Do we need more drastic measures to prevent the theft of books, maps, manuscripts and other art on paper? How can public institutions, lawyers, collectors and the rare book trade work more efficiently together when it comes to thefts and forgeries? How can thefts be prevented? And how can we raise the public awareness for the fact the theft of the written heritage of mankind is a serious problem that concerns of all of us?

The theft of and illicit trafficking in rare books, maps and manuscripts looted from libraries, archives and other repositories around the world is, indeed, a global problem that threatens the preservation of the recorded history of mankind. However, there have been only few seminars or conferences devoted to the examination of the many issues that pertain to this problem. As a consequence, the British Library has teamed up with the Art Law Commission of the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) and the Institute of Art and Law in London to invite those who deal with rare books and other priceless written materials to present a full-day conference devoted to a thorough review of the many aspects of this global epidemic of book and manuscript thefts.

ILAB President Norbert Donhofer will be among the many internationally renowned experts - librarians, archivists, representatives of dealers and auctioneers, security experts, lawyers - who will speak at this conference at the British Library in London on 26 June 2015. He will focus on the perspectives of the rare book trade and lessons learned, amongst others, from recent spectacular cases such as the massive thefts from the Girolamini Library in Naples (Italy).

The London conference is meant to be a first step to intensify the coordination and communication between institutions, collectors and the trade. The various participants and attendees will be encouraged to continue the discussion throughout the following year to address the problems raised and begin to develop a comprehensive set of principles that will ideally lead to the development of solutions to prevent widespread theft and trafficking and restore stolen items to their rightful owners for the benefit of everyone. A follow up conference is therefore going to be held in New York in 2016.

The Written Heritage of Mankind in Peril: Theft, Retrieval, Sale and Restitution of Rare Books, Maps and Manuscripts

Conference Programme:


9 to 9.30 am

Welcome Address and Introductory Key-Note: Manuscripts as Chattels and Chattels as Manuscripts: How archives, books and manuscripts relate to cultural material at large


Kristen Jensen, Head of Collections and Curation, British Library

Professor Norman Palmer QC (Hon) CBE FSA, Barrister, Expert Adviser to the Spoliation Advisory Panel, Chair of the Treasure Valuation Committee 2001-2011


9.30 to 10 am

Panel I – The Extent of the Problem: Notorious Examples of Rare Book Theft


Ivan Boserup, Former Head of Manuscripts and Rare Books, The Royal Library, Copenhagen

Margaret Lane Ford, International Head of Books and Manuscripts, Christie’s, New York

Professor Keun-Gwan Lee, Professor of Law, Seoul National University

Moderator:  Giuseppe Calabi, CBM & Partners, Milano


11 am to 12 noon

Panel II – The Legal Framework for Retrieving Stolen Books: An International Case Study


Sharon Cohen Levin, Partner at WilmerHale and former Chief, Money Laundering & Asset Forfeiture Unit, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

Jerker Ryden, Senior Legal Advisor, National Library of Sweden

Jutta Freifrau von Falkenhausen, Lawyer, Berlin

Moderator:  Howard N Spiegler, Partner and Co-Chair, Art Law Group, Herrick, Feinstein LLP


12 noon to 12.30 pm

Key-Note II – The Protection of Ancient Books and Manuscripts: the Turkish Experience


Professor Sibel Özel, Head of Private International Law, Marmara Üniversitesi, Istanbul


1.30 to 2.30 pm

Panel III – The Perspective of the Rare Book Trade


Richard Aronowitz-Mercer, Head of Restitution Europe at Sotheby's, London

Norbert Donhofer, President of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB)

Stephen Loewentheil, Founder and President of 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop, Baltimore

Moderator: Monica Dugot, International Director of Restitution, Christie’s


2.30 to 3.30 pm

Panel IV - Preventing the Theft and Trafficking of Rare Books


Greger Bergvall, Manuscripts, Maps and Pictures Division, National Library of Sweden

Denis Bruckmann, Director of Collections, Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Christian Recht, Senior Legal Advisor, Österreichisch Nationalbibliothek, Wien

Moderator:  Kristian Jensen, Head of Collections and Curation, British Library


4 to 5 pm

Concluding Discussion: Lessons Learned and Recommendations for the Future


Norbert Donhofer, President of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB)

Kristian Jensen, Head of Collections and Curation, British Library

Sharon Cohen Levin, Partner at WilmerHale and former Chief, Money Laundering & Asset Forfeiture Unit, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

Hetty Gleave, Partner, Hunters Solicitors, London
 
Moderator:  Gerd-Jan van den Bergh, Bergh Stoop & Sanders, Amsterdam


5 pm

End of Conference – Wine reception


Details:

The Written Heritage of Mankind in Peril: Theft, Retrieval, Sale and Restitution of Rare Books, Maps and Manuscripts


26 June 2015 at the British Library (Conference Centre), London
    
Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB

Fore more information please visit the official website.

Published since 12 Jun 2015

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