Probe Expands Into Attempted Theft of Maryland Historical Papers, Justin Fenton and Julie Baughmann, The Baltimore Sun, July 12, 2011
At the Maryland Historical Society, they're calling it the Great Cupcake Caper. Before being arrested by police on Saturday and charged with stealing dozens of historical documents, author and collector Barry H. Landau had brought cupcakes for the center's employees. They figure he was trying to ingratiate himself with the staff, much as he has for decades with political and Hollywood elite.
And it may be a calling card of sorts. As the investigation into the thefts continued to broaden Tuesday, officials at another state historical society said they had been visited multiple times in the past by Landau and his alleged conspirator, who brought Pepperidge Farm cookies for the staff and aroused suspicions with their "odd" behavior. Word of the arrests has set off a ripple effect among the historic preservation community, with the FBI requesting that other museums and libraries review their logs to see if Landau and 26-year-old Jason Savedoff had been visitors.
Landau is a renowned collector, reputed to have the largest collection of presidential memorabilia outside of museums and the presidential libraries. The former White House protocol officer has claimed to have 1 million artifacts in his Manhattan apartment on West 57th Street.
The director of the Maryland Historical Society confirmed that the pair had previously visited its Baltimore library in June, and authorities were working to account for documents that were checked out during that visit. The incident has sparked renewed attention to securing priceless and historic artifacts at museums and libraries. "In historic preservation circles, it's a problem that they've been trying to deal with for some time, and these situations bring it right to the forefront," said Joseph M. Coale, the former president of Historic Annapolis, who served on the board of the Maryland Historic Trust for 25 years. "Maryland has an interesting and unique history that's given great credibility by a lot of these documents" apparently targeted for robbery. "As a Marylander, I'm rather incensed about it."
Authorities declined to discuss the next steps in the investigation, but agents from the National Archives were observed leaving the Maryland Historical Society's Monument Street location around lunchtime Tuesday, boxes under their arms, as an FBI agent with a gun on his hip reviewed documents in the library where the crimes are alleged to have occurred.
Barry H. Landau has rubbed elbows with presidents, helped plan inaugurations, and claims one of the largest collections of Oval Office memorabilia outside museums and presidential libraries. His Manhattan apartment includes a collection of china from Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration and a picture of Landau kissing John F. Kennedy’s dog Clipper.
Police say he tried to expand that collection by pilfering dozens of rare documents from the Maryland Historical Society on Saturday. Landau, whose connections reportedly bridge the Washington, New York and Hollywood elite, now sits in Central Booking and is being held without bail.
The artifacts police say he and 24-year-old Jason Savedoff tried to take during a Saturday of reviewing historical papers at the Monument Street nonprofit’s archives include documents signed by Abraham Lincoln, presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs, a commemoration of the Statue of Liberty, and a commemoration of the Washington Monument. The items range in value from $100,000 to $500,000, and are just four of the 60 documents police say the men planned to steal, meaning the total value could be in the millions.
Text Source: Baltimore Sun
Image Source: New York Daily News. Caption: Photos by Baltimore Police Department. Jason Savedoff (l.) and historian Barry Landau were arrested for allegedly ripping off the Maryland Historical Society, stealing millions in documents.