Four guilty in sale of Royal Library items

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Three family members and a friend of a dead Royal Library worker who stole thousands of rare books, maps and copper prints in the 1960s and 1970s were convicted Thursday of selling some of the items through international auction houses.

The four were convicted by Copenhagen’s City Court for handling stolen goods and selling 104 books and copper prints through international auction houses in New York and London.

The three family members immediately appealed the verdict and the sentence, which included the seizure of their personal property.

The defendants included Eva Moeller-Kristensen, the late worker’s 69-year-old wife, who was sentenced to three years in prison; Thomas Moeller-Kristensen, his 42-year-old son, who was sentenced to two years; and Silke Albrecht, his 33-year-old daughter-in-law, and Patrick Adam Peters, a friend, who each got 18 months.

All four pleaded innocent, claiming they weren’t aware that the works, which dated from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, had been stolen.

However, the widow and son admitted during the trial that they hid 772 books, all of them bearing the Royal Library’s stamp, in the basement of the family home after the librarian died in February 2003.

Some 3,200 items, including first editions by Immanuel Kant, Thomas More and John Milton and manuscripts by Martin Luther, disappeared from Royal Library in the 1960s and 1970s. All the works were estimated to be worth about $48.4 million.

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