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A rare manuscript of a letter written by Christopher Columbus stolen from the Vatican Library has been returned to his rightful home as part of a joint investigation by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Delaware and the US Department of Homeland Security. UU

It was the second document of this kind returned by those offices in the last two weeks, and the third to be restored to its rightful owner as part of this year-long investigation.

The letter is a copy of one written by Columbus in 1493 that describes his discoveries in the Americas. It is unclear who was stolen or when it was stolen, but investigators discovered that it had been sold to a private collector in 2004 for approximately $ 875,000.

This third letter was returned on Thursday during a repatriation ceremony at the Vatican Library. Investigative officials, including US Attorney Jamie McCall and representatives of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, attended the event.

"Only through our strong federal law enforcement associations can we combat these cross-border crimes that rob all of these world's treasures. I truly commend the efforts of everyone involved in this case," said US Attorney David Weiss. .

Weiss and ICE officials returned another copy of the document, a letter from Plannck II, at a ceremony at the house of the Spanish ambassador on June 6 in Washington, DC

The recovery and return of the Vatican letter to Columbus also followed a multi-year investigation conducted by the United States Attorney's Office in Delaware because David Hall, the United States attorney at the time of the investigation, was an expert in these cases, McCall said.

The Jesuits donated a copy of the letter, along with thousands of other rare books and manuscripts, to Pope Benedict XV at the end of 1921. But at some point, It was stolen from the files and replaced with a fake designed to look like the original letter.

In 2017, the investigation led to Atlanta, where a copy of the letter was found. It was compared to the copy in possession of the Vatican and it was determined that the Atlanta version was the original. The person in Atlanta that made him give up the letter.

"We are very grateful to be able to reinsert this volume in its rightful place in the De Rossi collection, where it will remain available to researchers who come from all over the world to study the collections of the Vatican Library", Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, librarian of the Vatican, said in a statement.

Researchers found another counterfeit copy of the letter in the National Library of Catalonia in Barcelona, ​​Spain, in 2012, according to the United States Attorney's Office. The original letter was found, taken to Wilmington for review and handed over to the investigators who repatriated it on June 6.

Another letter from Plannck II was returned in 2016 to the Ricardiana Library in Florence, Italy, after it was discovered that the library a photocopied fake. The stolen manuscript, as determined by the investigators, had been donated to the Library of Congress.

Contact Adam Duvernay at (302) 319-1855 or


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