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Press Release

Rare, Wrongfully Obtained Manuscript To Be Returned to Peru

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero and FBI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs announced today that the Rosenbach Museum & Library (“the Rosenbach”) voluntarily transferred to the custody of the FBI a sixteenth-century manuscript for return to the Archivo General de la Nación del Perú, the Peruvian national archives. This rare six-page document, dated June 28, 1599, is a contract for the formation of the first theatrical company in the Americas in Lima, Peru and had been in the Rosenbach’s collection for almost a century.

In 2017, at the request of the Republic of Peru and in coordination with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State, the FBI Art Crime Team and the United States Attorney’s Office began an investigation as to whether these manuscript pages in the Rosenbach collection had been wrongfully removed from a sixteenth-century bound volume in the Peruvian national archives. The Rosenbach cooperated fully in this investigation and concluded that the manuscript, which had been purchased in the 1920s by its founder, Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach, had been removed from the bound volume in the archives at some time prior to Dr. Rosenbach’s purchase.

“Thanks to the dedicated work and coordination of our Office and our FBI partners, this manuscript will be returned to its rightful place in the Peruvian national archives,” said U.S. Attorney Romero.

“It’s always incredibly gratifying when the FBI’s Art Crime Team is able to recover precious cultural property,” said Wayne Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “We look forward to the day when this rare document is fully repatriated to the government of Peru and its archives. This case exemplifies the Bureau’s continued commitment to preserving the pieces of cultural heritage that help bring history to life.”

The United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI acknowledge the cooperation and assistance of the Rosenbach in this matter and are making arrangements for the repatriation of the manuscript pages to the Republic of Peru.

Updated November 29, 2023