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Press Release

Rare, Wrongfully Obtained Manuscript Returned to Peruvian Government

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 that a rare sixteenth-century manuscript was repatriated to the Peruvian government at a ceremony today presided over by U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. The ceremony took place at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., with the Philadelphia case team in attendance.

On behalf of the Republic of Peru, Foreign Affairs Minister Javier González-Olaechea accepted the manuscript from the FBI. It will now be returned to the Archivo General de la Nación del Perú, the Peruvian national archives.

This six-page document, dated June 28, 1599, is a contract for the formation of the first theatrical company in the Americas in Lima, Peru. It had been in the collection of the Rosenbach Museum & Library (“the Rosenbach”) for almost a century, when it was voluntarily transferred by the Rosenbach to the custody of the FBI in November 2023.

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 into 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.

“It’s been an honor for our office to assist in the return of this centuries-old manuscript to the people of Peru,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “The document represents a unique part of Peru’s history, and its repatriation reflects the Department of Justice’s ongoing commitment to protecting cultural heritage, not just in our own country, but around the world.”

“We are incredibly grateful to stand alongside our partners, both national and international, to return cultural property to its rightful home,” said Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Philadelphia. “The Bureau, through the diligent work of our Art Crime Team, is committed to preserving cultural heritage and returning them to the communities to which they belong.”

The United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI thank the Peruvian government for their partnership, and acknowledge the cooperation and assistance of the Rosenbach that led to today’s repatriation.

This case was investigated by the FBI Art Crime Team and was handled by Assistant United States Attorney K.T. Newton.

Updated March 14, 2024