September 27, 2021

Pittsburgh: Two Men Charged with Stealing More Than $8 Million in Rare Books From Carnegie Library

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

A former Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh archivist and a respected Oakland antiquarian bookseller “cannibalized” rare books from the institution by cutting out pages and stole more than $8 million worth of precious items over a 20-year period, according to the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office.

It ranks as one of the largest library thefts in history.

Greg Priore, 61, of Oakland, who worked as the sole archivist and manager of the library’s rare book room since 1992, is charged with theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy, retail theft, library theft, criminal mischief and forgery.

John Schulman, 54, of Squirrel Hill, who owns Caliban Book Shop, is charged with theft, receiving stolen property, dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, conspiracy, retail theft, theft by deception, forgery and deceptive business practices.

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In statements to investigators, according to the criminal complaints, Mr. Priore admitted his involvement in the thefts, saying he often removed items from the Oliver Room at the library’s main branch in Oakland by carrying individual plates (illustrated pages) and maps in manila folders, or for books or larger items, by brazenly rolling them up and walking out.

“Priore stated, ‘I should have never done this. I loved that room, my whole working life, and greed came over me. I did it, but Schulman spurred me on,’” the complaint said. “Priore alleged that Schulman ‘goaded’ him on and that Schulman made significantly more money than he did in the sale of the items from the Oliver Room.

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In total, $1.1 million worth of stolen items have been recovered through the efforts of Pall Mall, the DA’s office and the art collecting community, the complaint said.

The most valuable item stolen, which has been recovered, is Isaac Newton’s “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,” valued at $900,000.

The most valuable item still missing, according to the complaint is, “The Journal of…,” by George Washington, listed as being worth $250,000.

Read the Complete Article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (approx. 2300 words)

See Also: Carnegie Library’s rare books manager was fired after theft was discovered  (July 20, 2018; via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Profile of Greg Priore.

Additional Coverage 

A Librarian, A Shopkeeper and an $8m Rare Book Heist (via TribLive.com)

Video: Carnegie Library Rare Books Stolen Arrests (via KDKA)

See Also: Pittsburgh, PA: Who Stole 314 Items From the Carnegie Library Rare Books Room? (March 19, 2018)

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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