To the untrained eye the damage is barely visible. Yet within the handbound pages of books charting how Europeans travelled to Mesopotamia, Persia and the Mogul empire from the 16th century onwards, the damage caused by one Iranian academic to a priceless British Library collection is irreversible.
Leading scholars at the library are at a loss to explain why Farhad Hakimzadeh, a Harvard-educated businessman, publisher and intellectual, took a scalpel to the leaves of 150 books that have been in the nation's collection for centuries. The monetary damage he caused over seven years is in the region of £400,000 but Dr Kristian Jensen, head of the British and early printed collections at the library, said no price could be placed upon the books and maps that he had defaced and stolen.
"These are historic objects which have been damaged forever," said Jensen. "You cannot undo what he has done and it has compromised a piece of historical evidence which charts the early engagement of Europeans with what we now know as the Middle East and China
Saturday, November 29, 2008
A scholar has been charged with defacing 150 books from the Bodleian Library at Oxford. A bad act to be sure... "priceless"? I almost always feel that's an overstatement.