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FOUND: Boston’s Missing Rembrandt Was in the Library All Along


The missing prints (Photo: Boston Public Library)

Several months ago, the Boston Public Library discovered it had a problem. Two very valuable works of art—an etching by Rembrandt worth $30,000 and a engraving by Albrecht Dürer worth $600,000—were missing from the print department. The loss was first noticed sometime during the spring, but, as local news station WHDH reported, they could have been missing for a year. 

“We’re looking at the possibility that it could have been an inside job,” Boston’s police commissioner, William Evans, told WHDH.

It wasn’t. This week, the library found the prints. They had been misfiled—the whole time, they were in “Row 14B, Bay 3, on Shelf 2, approximately 80 feet from where the items should have been filed,” the library announced.

Fourteen staff members had to look through more than half of the print collection, which totals 320,000 items, in order to locate the missing fine art prints. Before they were found, the manager in charge of the print department was put on paid administrative leave, and the library’s president tendered her resignation.

However, the prints weren’t the only objects discovered missing. Last week it also came out that the library was missing the gold coins that were once inside an 1888 time capsule built into the library’s cornerstone. Somehow, it seems less likely that those were simply misfiled.

Bonus finds: A new dinosaurthe bones of Civil War soldiers

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.