Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2018 Issue

The Unending Circle: Recidivist Book Thief Goes Straight from Jail to Custody

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Caught on camera - Andrew Shannon punches $10 million painting and falls to the floor.

Book thief most unusual Andrew Shannon is headed back to his home country of Ireland after a brief interlude spent in England. He has returned in the company of Irish gendarmes after being released as a guest of the state in the United Kingdom. He was released from a short stint as a British house guest after his term for burglary expired. Shannon's freedom did not last long, as Irish police were there to greet him.

 

Shannon is what is known in the trade as a recidivist. Reportedly he has been arrested over 50 times, convicted 35 times. After a while, it is hard to keep track. Along with being an incorrigible thief, he is evidently not a very good one. Covering your tracks is not one of Mr. Shannon's strong points. Nor is he one to learn from his mistakes. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

 

Shannon is not a book-stealing specialist. He will take anything that is not tied down. It's just that during his most recent times in his native country, he was convicted of stealing 57 books from Carton House, once the estate of the FitzGerald family. The most notable was one of only six known copies of a 1660 edition of the King James Bible. When the books were found in Shannon's home, he explained that he purchased them for a small price at a fair. He did not sell them nor read them, saying he bought them because they looked nice on his shelves. Neither the police nor the jury believed him. Undoubtedly, his past record didn't help, and the owner of Carton house had photographed the books when he put them in storage during a renovation project. Identification was easy.

 

Nor was this the first time Shannon had been caught stealing from castles and estates. A few years earlier, he was picked up wandering around the grounds of a large estate. Shannon claimed he was merely looking for a bathroom. However, this did not adequately explain why he had some of the estate's property tucked under his coat. Nor did it explain why he had six such estates' locations entered in his GPS locator, each of which reported missing property.

 

However, it was none of these fifty-something thefts, nor even all of them put together, that made Shannon a celebrity in the annals of Irish crime. Rather, it was a crime that made no sense at all. On June 12, 2012, Shannon entered the National Gallery in Dublin. While a bevy of security cameras rolled, he walked over to a Claude Monet painting, Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, valued at a cool $10 million. He looked at it, but no, did not attempt to steal it. Rather he walked away. A short time later he returned, and suddenly, lunged at the painting, punching a hole in it. He then collapsed to the floor, quickly to be revived.

 

Shannon claimed his heart condition caused him to have a fainting spell. However, this did not really explain why his fist rose up above eye level and punched a hole in the painting. His doctor explained to the jury that Shannon had indeed had quadruple bypass surgery. Still, he also admitted under cross-examination that only 1% of such patients suffer dizzy spells, nor could he explain thrusting his fist up into the painting, nor how he was able to completely recover so quickly. It also most likely was unhelpful in the jury's eyes that Shannon had carried a can of paint stripper with him into an art museum filled with paintings.

 

So now, Shannon is back in Ireland, this time to face the music concerning an art theft. In this case, he was found with a bunch of paintings in his home, which he neither purchased nor painted himself. One was specifically tracked to a hotel in County Cork. Coincidentally enough, he was staying there at the time the painting was stolen. He will undoubtedly spend a little time in prison, and then be released back onto the street again. From there, we guess he will go visit another town, or another house, maybe even yours.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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