Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2020 Issue

How the ‘King of Manuscripts’ Became the Madoff of ‘France’


Page 1 of a 3 page story Ponzi Scheme

It’s an uncommon occurrence that rare books and manuscripts dominate the news in an issue of the New York Sunday Times.  Nevertheless it occurred on February 23rd, 2020.  Even more surprisingly it’s an old, unsettling story.


This is not a new story.  We’ve written 4 articles about the French firm Aristophil and what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme about rare and collectible paper.  This subject has been thoroughly discussed at Rare Book Hub between April 2015 and December 2019 but the Times released a fresh 3 full-page story that gives this saga added significance given the timing may dampen the animal spirits of the rare book and manuscript trade that often luxuriate over the dealers, crowds and material that will soon be standing cheek by jowl at the Armory at 66th and Park over the March 5-8 at the most important book and manuscript fair in the western world.


It’s a reminder how important trust is, and how damaging it is if buyers are betrayed.


The Times story is accessible on their online edition dated February 23rd, 2020.


If you subscribe to print or electronic editions of the New York Times or simply search on Google as:



Posted On: 2020-03-01 22:20
User Name: JohnWindle

A full summary with names, dates, book titles,n, any other relevant information such as which exhibitiors at the NYBF are known criminals would be illuminating. Recently a well known European collector was sitting in his dealer's booth selling his books directly to the public.

Posted On: 2020-03-19 02:35
User Name: mairin

Thanks for this, Bruce.
I saw detailed coverage of this subject in the NY Times a few weeks ago,
and alerted Charles Brown, editor, Florida Bibliophile Society newsletter,
who then uploaded his redaction of the piece (March issue). The subject
has had broad exposure. A cautionary tale ... buyer beware!
Maureen E. Mulvihill

Rare Book Monthly

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