Tangled web

Man steals rare Shakespeare first folio, then mutilates it so he can claim he found it

According to prosecutors at his trial in the British city of Newcastle, Raymond Scott stole a Shakespeare first folio—worth millions—from Durham University in 1998 and then hoarded it for a decade until he tried to sell to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. To make it fit the story he told—that the volume had been in a Cuban family’s attic for a century or more before discovery, Scott tore the binding and boards from the 1623 book, often described as the most important in the English language. One expert who inspected the book, which was still thought to be worth $1.5 million U.S. in its damaged condition, described it as “ cultural legacy that has been damaged, brutalised and mutilated.” He had come to Washington, he told Folger, on behalf of his Cuban friends who couldn’t leave their country. But the prosecution says the unemployed Scott had become “infatuated” with a woman living in Cuba around February 2008 and had been sending her huge sums of money and was now $150,000 in debt.