Gang Steals $3M in Books in Hollywood-Esque Heist

They cut through skylights, rappelled down
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2017 11:03 AM CST
Just Like in the Movies: Trio Stages Daring Book Heist
This photo released by Christie's auction house in New York shows a 1543 first edition of "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" by astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.   (AP Photo/Christie's Images LTD)

It was a heist worthy of Hollywood: Thieves targeted a London warehouse temporarily holding some of the world's rarest books, cut through its skylights, rappelled down, and made off with more than $3 million in bounty, reports the Telegraph. In total, the trio nabbed more than 160 books, and Business Insider notes that CCTV cameras show the thieves ignoring everything in the warehouse but four containers, the contents of which they checked against a list. "This was a big job," Alessandro Meda Riquier, a dealer who lost about $1.6 million worth of books in the heist, tells the CBC. "Police said that it took more than three hours to complete."

The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers has published the complete list of stolen publications, but the "jewel" is a 1566 edition of De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium by Copernicus, the book in which he theorized that the sun, not the Earth, is at the center of our solar system. Other notables include a 1506 edition of Dante's Divine Comedy, and a copy of Isaac Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. It smacks of an inside job, an art attorney tells the Guardian, likening it to the Lufthansa heist in the movie Goodfellas. "Somebody had inside information that they were being kept in a warehouse and were particularly valuable," he says. "Then someone allowed that information to leak out, and criminals took advantage.” (One book dealer was murdered for his copy of a children's classic.)

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