Rare Hebrew Book Recovered

A precious 15th-century Hebrew book, stolen last Oct. 2 from the national library in Florence and worth over $1 million, has been recovered in the United States.

According to Interpol, the thief was identified as 61-year-old Israeli Yitzhak Schwarz, who posed as a rabbi. Israeli police helped in pinpointing his identity and in tracing the book, which apparently went through the hands of a London antiquarian.

Florence officials have issued an arrest warrant for Schwarz on charges of aggravated theft and illegal export of a work of art.

According to published reports, Schwarz visited the Florence library twice, each time asking to see the book — “The Salterium Davidis,” printed in Brescia in 1493 — and using his passport as an identity document.

On Oct. 2, he managed to leave the library with the book in his possession.

Police said that a similar theft of a valuable Hebrew book had occurred just a week before the Florence theft at the University Library in the northwest city of Turin.

Police are also investigating the theft of a similar Hebrew book from a library in Parma 10 years ago, as well as the reported presence of Schwarz at a library in Milan in March, where he is believed to have examined another book of the same type.

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