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Modern Mysteries

Mystery surrounds stolen Columbus letter

June 23, 2018 | Comment icon 6 comments



Christopher Columbus had written to the King and Queen of Spain. Image Credit: Michael Zeno Diemer
A copy of a letter written by Christopher Columbus was stolen from the Vatican and replaced with a fake.
The letter, which was acquired by the Vatican Apostolic Library in 1921, was a copy of a letter that Columbus had written in 1493 to describe his first impressions of the Caribbean islands.

Intended for the eyes of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, the letter described a land "full of trees of endless varieties, so high that they seem to touch the sky."

It was valued at a staggering $1.2 million.

In 2011 however, United States Homeland Security Investigations received a tip-off from an old books and manuscripts expert claiming that the Vatican's copy of the letter was actually a forgery.
It later transpired that someone had managed to switch the real one with a near-perfect fake.

It wasn't until last week that the original was finally tracked down and returned to the Vatican.

The identify of the individual responsible for creating the forgery and switching it over continues to remain a mystery. The theft could have been carried out at any time over the last 90 years.

As things stand, it seems unlikely that we will ever know for sure who was behind it.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine | Comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by qxcontinuum 4 years ago
So wait a moment; why many historians claim that Columbus wasn't a rea? person  when there are letters and proofs dating back to his presence?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Ozfactor 4 years ago
I wonder how the original letter was found and returned if it could have gone missing anytime in the past 90 years, no one knew it was missing until a tip off and no one knew who took it . 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Echoes 4 years ago
Now this is content worthy for a mystery/thriller book! Just add murder and a few plot twists and you've got yourself an entire plot.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Essan 4 years ago
Sounds like the plot of the next Dan Brown novel    Although the mundane explanation is a rich, obsessive, collector wanted it to secrete in a safe in a vault where no-one but he would ever see it, and got someone to switch it.  Sad.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Echoes 4 years ago
The true explanation is always much less interesting and exciting  I'd much prefer the novel rather than reality. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer 4 years ago
Quick - Call Tom Hanks!  The articles says the "original" was a copy.so who wrote that?  Did Columbus find carbon paper or write one letter for each Monarch?


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