Two of the rare books stolen from Sweden's Royal Library were returned today during a ceremony in New York. The two books recovered today were purchased in 1998 by Stephan Loewentheil, a bookshop owner in Baltimore who'd sold the books, but bought them back in order to return them to the library. A lawyer with the firm representing the library estimates the value of the two volumes at $255,000.
"Although as a bona fide purchaser, I didn't have any legal liability, from a moral standpoint it bothered me," Loewentheil told AFP. "So I tracked them down and fortunately the people I had sold them to were willing to sell them back to me, and I repurchased them at my own expense.
The books, "a 1683 description of Louisiana in French written by Louis Hennepin, including maps and produced on the orders of the king; and a 19th-century illustrated volume about the Mississippi valley in German," according to Bloomberg, were part of a list of 56 other rare volumes stolen by library employee Anders Burius between 1995 and 2004.
Burius, also known unimpressively as the "Royal Library Man," confessed to his crimes after the library realized that its inventory of one-of-a-kind books was looking a little light, and committed suicide soon after his arrest. Since then, there's been a miniseries (Bibliotekstjuven, the Swedish term for—again, unimpressively—Library Thief) and the library has been working to recover the books, which Burius sold to various dealers.