December 4, 2020

Missing Boston Public Library Artwork Found (They Were Misfiled!)

Update: A Boston Public Library spokesperson tells infoDOCKET that:

  • The missing art was discovered today
  • Today’s discovery does not his does not impact Amy Ryan’s decision to resign.

Librarians and archivists talk about fugitive documents. Today, we learn about some missing artwork that we now know was fugitive artwork.

Today’s discovery of the missing/fugitive art comes just one day after the Boston Public Library announced several new organization and security initiatives and BPL President Amy Ryan announced her resignation.

From BPL:

Today, the Boston Public Library announced that two missing pieces of artwork from the library’s 200,000 item Print Collection have been found. The missing Dürer and Rembrandt prints had been misfiled and were located by Conservation Officer Lauren Schott during an 8 week search of the BPL’s print stacks.

“We’re thrilled to have found these treasures right here at home,” said Library President Amy Ryan. “They were found safe and sound, simply misfiled. BPL is still committed to enhanced security and a full inventory, but today is a day of celebration for the entire team at BPL. The staff couldn’t be happier after hundreds of hours of searching. I want to thank the FBI, Boston Police Department, and US Attorney’s Office for their work throughout this period.”

PresRyanLaurenShott_Durer_Rembrandt-1

Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan and Conservation Officer Lauren Schott hold the once missing prints that were misfiled and discovered today.

“I was shocked to find the two prints, but it really was just luck of the draw. Anyone of the team that’s been looking for the Dürer and Rembrandt could have found them,” said Lauren Schott.

The Rembrandt and Dürer were found together in Row 14B, Bay 3 on Shelf 2, approximately 80 feet from where the items should have been filed.  Fourteen staff members searched 180,000 of the print stack’s 320,000 items (including 200,000 prints and drawings in the Print Collection and 120,000 chromolithographs), totaling 38 rows of the 60 rows of print stacks, or about 60% of the inventory. Nine offices, work rooms, and reading rooms had also been searched. The Durer and Rembrandt have been refiled.

Specific information regarding the Dürer and Rembrandt prints:

  • Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471-1528).  Adam and Eve.  Engraving, 1504.  Estimated value, $600,000.
  • Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669).  Self Portrait with Plumed Cap and Lowered Sabre.  Etching, 1634.  Estimated value, $20,000-$30,000.

The Rembrandt is part of the Wiggin Collection gift of 1941, and the Albrecht Dürer is part of the Leo M. Friedman estate received in 1958.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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