Last Thursday, a Federal grand jury indicted Barry Landau and Jason Savedoff “…for conspiring to steal historical documents from museums in Maryland and New York, and selling them for profit.” On Friday they were arraigned in Baltimore’s U.S. District Court and immediately arrested by FBI and NARA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Special Agents.
The indictment spells out the manner, means, and purpose of Landau and Savedoff’s conspiracy to “…steal and obtain by fraud from the care, custody, and control of various museums certain objects of cultural heritage…” Among those “objects” are seven reading copies of speeches given by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stolen from our FDR Library in Hyde Park, New York. Four of these speeches were later sold.
Other institutions identified in the indictment include the New York Historical Society and the Maryland Historical Society.
Our OIG is working closely with the law enforcement agencies involved in the ongoing investigation and NARA staff from various units have stepped up to assist this work.
I am extremely proud of the staff—their professionalism, cooperative spirit, and seriousness with which they are taking this assignment.
Any time the collections entrusted to my care are stolen I feel personally violated. Throughout my career I have fought hard to create and support the appropriate protective measures that ensure that those great special collections and archives would be available forever. Those measures include secure and climate-controlled housing, secure reading rooms, and well trained staff who, every day, walk the fine line between access and protection—making the records available and safeguarding them at the same time.
This past year, our newly created Holdings Protection Team has identified and engaged stakeholders, observed processes that created holdings risks and provided recommendations and solutions, and monitored the execution of policies and standards. They have visited more than 30 of our 44 sites, doing internal and external prevention awareness training at most facilities. Heightened research room security continues to be our highest priority. Constant vigilance is our best defense.
You will certainly be hearing more about this as the investigation proceeds.