Millionaire Bodleian thief brought to book

first_imgDetective Chief Inspector Dave Cobb of the Metropolitan Police Service explained the difficulty of uncovering Hakimzadeh’s crimes.He said, “it is extremely difficult to detect the absence of these pages as Hakimzadeh took care to select material that only an expert would be able to identify, as early printed books are unique.”Library staff used electronic records to determine who had taken out the Thomas Herbert book and then examined other works these people had used.They found that related works, covering European engagement with the area from Bangladesh to modern-day Syria, were also damaged.Staff uncovered a consistent pattern of damage in works used by Hakimzadeh. By tracing the books he had used in his years as a library member, they discovered that 150 of the 842 books he had used in the library had pages missing.The British Library alerted staff at the Bodleian Library and contacted the Metropolitan Police.Police searched Hakimzadeh’s home in Kensington, London, last year and found ten examples of theft from the British Library and four from the Bodleian. Police also recovered two complete books Hakimmzadeh had stolen from Oxford’s Eastern Art library.He had inserted some of the missing pages, maps and pictures into less valuable editions of the same books he owned.Hakimzadeh originally claimed he had bought the books from second-hand market stalls. However, a British Library official was able to identify the missing pages when brought in with the police’s second visit.Experts have suggested that he stole pages to increase the value of his own collection or to add pages and illustrations to specially requested hand-made books. Hakimzadeh was the chief executive of the Iran Heritage Foundation, a charity he formed in 1995 to promote the history, languages and culture of Iran, and respected author and scholar.The vandalised books from the Bodleian and other OULS libraries related to Western engagement with the near and Middle East. Ovenden thanked all the OULS staff for their “diligence and hard work” in helping the police to solve the case and stressed the gravity of Hakimzadeh’s actions. “The seriousness with which the Metropolitan Police and both libraries have taken this case shows that theft and vandalism of this kind will not be tolerated, and will be pursued through the law to their conclusion.”Hakimzadeh is due to be sentenced in January. Meanwhile the British Library are pursuing a civil claim against Hakimzadeh, seeking to either recover the pages taken from another 150 books, or compensation.Ovendon stated that the Bodleian is also seeking ways of recovering some of the lost resources. He said, “the University is considering other action to ensure that the losses incurred by the Library are recovered.” An Iranian millionaire who stole from “priceless” collections in the Bodleian and British Library may face jail after causing an estimated £1 million worth of damage.Farhard Hakimzadeh, a respected businessman, publisher and intellectual, cut pages from 150 books using a scalpel or razor and then inserted them into his own copies.Bodleian staff have condemned Hakimzadeh’s actions as cultural vandalism and described his behaviour as “exceedingly clever, devious and skilful.”He pleaded guilty to fourteen charges of stealing maps, pages and illustrations, and faces a further twenty charges in connection with the thefts.Hakimzadeh had taken pages from 47 volumes from the Bodleian since 2003 alone, a spokesman for the Bodleian claimed. Stolen maps include one from the British Library worth £32,000.Richard Ovenden, the Bodleian’s Keeper of Special Collections, said, “his actions fall into the category of cultural vandalism, where his own desire to own rare books encouraged him to damage highly important research materials, and significant cultural objects, that were acquired by the Bodleian and other OULS libraries over many hundreds of years for the benefit of scholars in Oxford and for the many visiting researchers who come to the University because of its libraries.”Ovenden emphasised that the damage Hakimzadeh has done to irreplaceable works is irrevocable, with effects that will be felt by future researchers who will not have access to full sources.He said, “most of these books suffered the deliberate removal of pages, and the damage caused will be permanent. The cost of the damage he caused to future scholarship in these fields is therefore significant.”Hakimzadeh’s crimes were finally exposed when a researcher in the British Library realised that a page from a 17th century book by Sir Thomas Herbert was missing.last_img read more