Monday, November 06, 2006

Returning stolen property

I was witness to an interesting interaction a couple of weeks ago. A stolen manuscript was returned to the hands of the library which owned it. I'll give the background quickly:

Some time last year, a scandal erupted around Michel Garel, the curator of Hebrew manuscripts at the Bibliotheque Nationale. It centered around an Ashkenazi copy of the Pentateuch,which David Sofer had bought at auction and then sold to someone else through Christie's. The manuscript turned out to be the remnants of a manuscript from the BN itself. The story was widely reported, and also elicited a fairly bewildering conspiracy theory.

After months of legal negotiation, the manuscript itself was brought to a central location, where the new curator from Paris examined it page by page. Together we checked to see that all the folios were in place and tried to read the various marginalia known to be in the manuscript. Well, the Pentateuch was almost complete, as were the Megillot, but the Haftarot had been cut out. Most of the marginal comments, many of which are in Latin, had been erased but were legible under ultra-violet light (and just barely without it). It was sad. When that was done, the lawyers were called in to witness the packaging of the manuscript in bubble-wrap and it was taken to a bank.


Blogger frfrf said...

is capital punishment uncalled for?

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Lia said...

Speaking of which, a new book:

5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michel Garel has never stolen anything. He is a lure and a scapegoat. He is very useful to the French Cultural authorities to hide the thousands of thefts from libraries and museums, which are totally hushed up.
There is not the slightest evidence of the curator's guilt, who is put in the odd position of prouving his innocence.
They have destroyed a man, which , after all, is nothing but normal when the " honor" of the State is at stake...

9:53 AM  

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