Monday, July 14, 2008

News from the “sceptred isle” (Updated)

Not much of a Cuba angle here – at least not yet – but it’s too good to pass up. The Washington Post reported Saturday that a “flashy” man walked into the Folger Shakespeare Library last month and asked experts to authenticate a book he obtained “from a family library in Cuba, and he was representing the family.” It turned out to be a rare volume of the Bard’s plays, published in 1623, and the Folger experts determined that this particular book had been stolen from a British university ten years ago.

The Post had nothing on the man’s identity, but a British newspaper, the Northern Echo, caught up with Raymond Scott after he was arrested in Britain and released on bail. He got the book from “contacts in Cuba,” he said, insisting he had done nothing wrong. And why would he have walked into the Folger if he had something to hide? The Echo photographs Mr. Scott enjoying a cigar and a glass of Dom Perignon. His neighbors, interviewed by the Echo, report that he’s “an eccentric who wore rubber marigold gloves to wash the string of classic sports cars he has owned, including a rare Ferrari Dino.”

If this was the stolen volume, worth millions, why would the thief have brought it to Cuba?

[Update: The Daily Mail has more (h/t Penultimos Dias). Mr. Scott says that three friends in Cuba “allowed him to take it [the book] out of the country so that experts could confirm its authenticity.” Plus, a dancer from the Tropicana is involved.]

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