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400-Year-Old Bible Stolen From Carnegie Library Recovered From Dutch Museum

Kathleen J. Davis
90.5 WESA
The recovered 400-year-old Geneva Bible at the FBI Pittsburgh headquarters on Thursday, April 25, 2019.

The FBI in Pittsburgh announced Thursday that a 400-year-old Geneva Bible stolen from the Carnegie Library in the 1990s is back in the Steel City.

The rare edition was found at the American Pilgrim Museum in Leiden, Netherlands. It's believed to be similar to one taken by pilgrims on the Mayflower. The artifact is one of 320 rare items stolen from the library over the course of more than two decades. Only a handful of items have been recovered since the they were discovered to be missing in 2017.

"Our history is precious, but it's not permanent," said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala. "The fact that we've recovered 18 books is a good thing, but 320 items were taken."

The Carnegie Library's former archivist and the owner of a bookstore have been charged with stealing and selling the items. Zappala said the case has not been scheduled for trial, but there will be a status conference in June.

An investigation into the missing rare items began in June of 2017 after an audit into a section of the Carnegie Library revealed 320 missing items. These included books, maps and atlases, worth about $8 million in total.

"And when we talk about the value of the items, that's an insurance appraised value," Zappala said. "These items are priceless."

According to Zappala, the owner of the American Pilgrim Museum contacted the Carnegie Library after the two men were charged. The Hague Police and FBI then took over.

"These works of art hold a special place in our society," FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones said. "This Bible is more than a piece of evidence, it's an important artifact of religious significance."

The Bible will be returned to the library.