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 (7)