Stolen 400-Year-Old Bible Returns to U.S. After Being Missing For Decades

A stolen Geneva Bible, dating to 1615, was recovered in the Netherlands and returned to Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library on Thursday, April 25, 2019. (Credit: FBI Pittsburgh)

A 400-year-old Bible — one of 321 rare items stolen from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in the 1990s — has been returned after a transoceanic journey.

“This Bible is more than a piece of evidence in a case. It is a priceless artifact of religious significance to people of many faiths,” said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala at a news conference Thursday.

The rare Geneva Bible was discovered in the Netherlands in the possession of Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, the director of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, who had acquired the book for the museum. Bangs told CNN he bought the 1615 book from what he thought was a “reputable dealer in antiquarian books.”

For the last several years, Bangs has been collecting books that are listed as belonging to people who lived in the colony of Plymouth from 1620 to 1691. His intention was to have the collection displayed in an exhibition celebrating the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower.

Last year, Bangs said he was contacted by Pittsburgh’s district attorney informing him that the book may be a stolen artifact.

After several months of back and forth to prove the request for the book’s return was legitimate, Bangs contacted his local law enforcement — and an expert in stolen art returned the book to the American embassy in The Hague.

“The more of these items that we can return to the Carnegie Library, the more we can patch the wound that was inflicted upon our community by the theft of these items,” Zappala said.

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