Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Attempted Theft Of Presidential Documents Valued in Millions

Police in Baltimore, Maryland have arrested two men in the attempted theft of various historic documents worth millions of dollars from the Maryland Historical Society. One of the men, Mr. Barry H. Landau (pictured at left) claims to be one of the foremost collectors of presidential memorabilia, with over one million pieces in his collection. The man on the right, Jason Savedoff, is accused of being Landau's accomplice.

According to a copyrighted story in The Baltimore Sun newspaper, the two men were at the society on Saturday July 10, where they spent most of the day examining various historical documents made available to researchers. But they apparently showed suspicious behavior and society officials spotted Savedoff stealing a document and carrying it out of the building. Police were contacted and Savedoff was confronted by police. They discovered a locker rented by Savedoff near the society building, and found 60 documents, including some signed out by Landau.

Included in this attempted theft were documents signed by Abraham Lincoln, valued at $300,000, a document from the dedication of the Statue Of Liberty, another from the commemoration of the Washington Memorial, and various invitations to presidential balls. All told, the entire "haul" could've been worth in the millions.

Unfortunately, thefts of priceless documents from museums and historic societies aren't uncommon. Institutions have to balance access for researchers and security of their property. Only a few months ago, a researcher was caught "doctoring" a date on a pardon which Lincoln wrote, so it would appear that Lincoln wrote it on his last day in the White House. I have previously reported about thefts of Lincoln documents in articles which may be found here, here
and here. Other treasures such as the original patent for the Wright Brothers airplane are currently missing from other institutions.

The article from The Baltimore Sun tells more about the background of Landau. Apparently he has worked with various U.S. presidents and even hobnobbed with Hollywood celebrities. He is the author of a book about presidential diplomacy and is said to be at work on a second book. Both of the men are being held in a Baltimore jail at this time.

 
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