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Christopher Columbus Letter Returned to Italy Decades After Being Stolen

By: Matthew Wang

A rare printing of one of Christopher Columbus’s letters was finally returned to Italy after it was stolen decades prior. The letter resurfaced in Denver after a collector bought it from a rare books dealer, reports NPR.

According to NPR, the rare letter went missing from the Marciana National Library somewhere between 1985 and1987. The letter was returned when investigators, after receiving information on alleged forged copies of Columbus’s letter, began a hunt for the stolen copies. During this effort they determined that the letter that went missing from Maricana may have been in a privately owned library located in the US. With the collector’s cooperation and swift action by the authorities, the letter was then returned to Italy.

A return of a letter of such rarity is huge for the Italians, as William Walker, who is in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Philadelphia, aptly states, “Culturally significant artifacts are assigned a monetary value in the world's marketplaces… but the cultural and symbolic worth of these objects far surpasses any given dollar value to the nations to whom they rightfully belong." In addition, NPR reports that the Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano described Columbus as, despite his controversy, an important figure in Italian history and said that the document would be shown along with a traveling exhibition to help others appreciate it and the fascinating part of Italian history it represents.

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