John Schulman, owner of Caliban Book shop in Oakland, has pleaded guilty to charges of forgery, theft by deception and receiving stolen property.
Schulman and Gregory Priore, a former archivist at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, were arrested in 2018 after a 2017 audit of the library’s Oliver Room by Pall Mart Art Advisors revealed missing and vandalized works. Of the numerous items removed from the library was a 1632 edition of Thomas Sternhold’s “The Whole Booke of Psalmes, Collected into English Meeter, Conferred with the Hebrew, with apt Notes to Sing Them with All…”
Priore has pleaded guilty to theft of unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.
Prosecutors alleged a decades-long relationship between Priore and Schulman whereby the library staffer delivered stolen materials to the bookseller who would then sell them through the shop and online. Police estimated losses at approximately $8 million.
Schulman’s attorneys, Robert Del Greco Jr., Albert Veverka and Ember Holmes, said in a statement that Schulman had accepted “responsibility for his association with books under circumstances whereby he should have known that the books had probably been stolen,” reported The Washington Post. Mr. Schulman has dedicated much of his life to contributing to the bookselling trade and regrets that today’s guilty pleas negatively reflected upon the antiquarian book industry, his family and clients.”
Following Priore and Schulman’s Jan. 13 pleas, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh issued a statement: “The shock, the anger and the hurt we feel that individuals who were close to us, who were trusted by us, who were considered friends and colleagues to many of us at the Library, would abuse the faith we had in them for personal gain will be with us for a very long time. This was a very serious crime committed over a long period of time by educated and well-known members of the community.
“We are hopeful that the sentences given to these two individuals will adequately reflect the significant damage done not only to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, but to the literary community near and far. We are thankful to the District Attorney’s Office and the investigators for the handling of this matter and for their tireless work to attempt to recover the stolen items.” pjc