Stolen plays, disguises, and a long distance love affair–a modern day Shakespearean tragedy in the making. But I’m sure Raymond Scott, accused of stealing what has been described as “the most important book in the English language,” does not see the poetry in his future incarceration.
The book, a 390-year-old collection of Shakespeare’s plays, was stolen from the Pallas Green Museum in Durham University in 1998 and was valued at £15 million GBP ($22,228,560 USD).
The book resurfaced in 2008 when then 53-year-old Raymond Scott posed as a wealthy businessman, showing the book to experts Washington at the Folger Shakespeare Library, claiming he wanted to verify its authenticity. He was hoping to make money off the book, which he allegedly defaced so it wouldn’t be traced back to the one stolen from the museum in 1998.
Deep in debt, his hopes of cashing in with the stolen book were shattered when experts identified his copy as stolen property. It was one of only 228 copies published in 1623 still known to be in existence, and now was missing pages and bindings. One of the experts was quoted in court saying that it was “a cultural legacy that has been damaged, brutalized and mutilated.”
The defaced book is still worth a good £1 million ($1,481,904) and the alleged thief maintains his innocence as his case continues.