Victim in Theft, British Library Pushes for Tougher Sentence
By JAMES KINSELLA
The British Library, one of the institutions victimized by rare-map thief E. Forbes Smiley 3rd of Chilmark, has urged the court to increase the severity of his pending sentence.
The library, whose 1520 Apian world map was stolen by Mr. Smiley, has called on U.S. District Judge Janet Arterton to sentence him to 78 to 97 months in prison. The government and the defense have agreed that his sentence should range from 57 to 71 months.
The Apian map and the volume in which it was contained, the library states, "remained intact surviving catastrophic events: the execution of its owner and the disbursement of his property; civil war and the ascendance of Oliver Cromwell; royal intrigue; times of economic depression; and the Nazi bombing of London. The volume remained intact until visited by Smiley."
The British Library, situated in London, is the national library of the United Kingdom.
The library, in a victim impact statement it submitted, said it has often been described as the steward of the DNA of civilization. "Any loss to the British Library is thus veritably a loss to humankind, including the United States," the library states.
Mr. Smiley, a dealer in antiquities who has admitted stealing 97 rare maps and documents from seven institutions between 1998 and 2005, is scheduled to be sentenced at 1 p.m. Sept. 27 in federal court in New Haven, Conn.
Neither Mr. Smiley nor his attorney, Richard Reeve, could be reached for comment on the library's sentencing memorandum.
In court last June, Mr. Smiley acknowledged going into the Beinecke Library at Yale University in June 2005 and stealing one of those maps: a 1578 rare map titled Vninersi Orbis, sevterreni glo. The theft of the map, a piece of cultural heritage more than 100 years old and worth more than $5,000, is a federal felony.
Following his arrest by Yale University police, Mr. Smiley cooperated with the government with identifying maps and documents he had stolen from the institutions.
Mr. Smiley also faces three felony larceny charges in state superior court in New Haven, where he has acknowledged stealing three maps from Yale: the sevterreni map; Typus Orbis Terranum, taken from the book Principle Navigators, Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation; and a portrait of John Smith taken from a book titled Advertisement for the Unexperienced Planters of New England or Anywhere. He is scheduled to be sentenced in superior court Oct. 13.
The judge in the state case, the Hon. Richard Damiani, told Mr. Smiley last June that he could be sentenced up to 60 years in prison and/or fined $45,000. But Judge Damiani has said he was inclined to sentence Mr. Smiley to five years in state prison for each count, though the sentences would run concurrently and also concurrently with whatever federal time he serves.
Institutions from which Mr. Smiley acknowledged stealing include The New York Public Library, the Houghton Library at Harvard University, the Boston Public Library, the Newberry Library in Chicago, Ill., and the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale.
Although the institutions have filed victim impact reports with the court, the British Library, represented by attorney Robert E. Goldman of Philadelphia, Pa., is the only institution so far to file a sentencing memorandum with the court.
In the memorandum, dated Sept. 13, Mr. Goldman writes that the British Library had discovered the theft of the Apian map and Mr. Smiley's commission of the crime before, and independent of, Mr. Smiley's cooperation with federal authorities.
"The British Library was in the process of recovering the map from an American dealer when it was taken into possession" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Goldman writes.
The sentencing memorandum lists three reasons that the court should sentence Mr. Smiley more severely. They are:
* That Mr. Smiley stole not just from one victim, but from seven public and private libraries.
* That Mr. Smiley was engaged in a pattern of misconduct. As Mr. Goldman writes elsewhere in the memorandum, "The case of United States v. Smiley has made painfully clear that Smiley created his marketplace and built his inventory through the systematic looting of the world's great libraries."
* That the economic loss does not fully account for the seriousness of the offense.
Mr. Smiley's attorney, Mr. Reeve, has estimated that value of the 97 maps at more than $3 million. Mr. Smiley faces claims of $1.8 million or more.
But in the sentencing memorandum, Mr. Goldman writes, "the harm caused by Smiley transcends monetary loss. Objects significant to British, American and world heritage have an intrinsic value beyond the monetary worth set in the commercial market."
The world map produced by Peter Apian in 1520, Mr. Goldman writes, is just one example of the exceptional nature of the maps stolen by Mr. Smiley.
"This map was torn from a volume that was owned by Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury," he writes. "The volume, now absent the map, still bears his signature.
"Cranmer precipitated England's epoch-making break with Rome by marrying King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn in 1533," Mr. Goldman states. "After Henry, he was the most influential man in early Tudor England. The volume shows that Cranmer took a lively interest in geography.
"Thus, the Apian map represents Cranmer's image of the world," he writes. "It demonstrates that he believed America to be a separate continent discovered by Amerigo Vespucci and not, as many still believed at that time, that it was part of Asia. This image determined such advice as he gave the king and his ministers on matters of overseas exploration."
After Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) burned Cranmer for his beliefs in 1556, the volume was taken into the Old Royal Library. Surviving the centuries, the volume and map were presented by King George II to the newly created British Museum in 1757 and passed on to the British Library on its creation in 1973. There the map remained until stolen by Mr. Smiley.
Indeed, the British Museum contends in a footnote to the memorandum that Mr. Smiley stole three other maps of equal significance from the museum. He only has admitted stealing the Apian map.
Yesterday, Mr. Goldman said that of the three maps, two are versions of the Alexander map, one dating from the 1500s and the other from 1625. The map is an early visualization of Nova Scotia and New England. The third map, known as the Best map, dates from the late 1500s and shows the legendary Northwest Passage. The map was taken from a tract, part of the collection of King George III, which describes the voyages of explorer Martin Frobisher.
The footnote formalizes the suspicion voiced earlier this summer by British Library officials that Mr. Smiley had stolen more maps than he admitted taking. A number of the other institutions also have found more maps missing, and met with federal officials to discuss whether Mr. Smiley might have been involved.
Expounding on the damage done by Mr. Smiley, Mr. Goldman writes, "Like a drop of oil on a still pond, the number of his victims spreads with time.
"Smiley's victims include students, scholars, academics, the general public and individuals not yet to be born who will not have the opportunity to sit at a desk, open a leather-bound volume, and see the world as Archbishop Cranmer and others saw it in the 16th century."
The more severe sentence requested by the library, Mr. Goldman writes, is required given the facts of the case, the supporting law, and the need to "deter others who may be inclined, as Smiley was, to steal world treasures from public and private institutions."