Home News Stories 2007 November FBI Returns Stolen Ptolemy Maps

FBI Returns Stolen Ptolemy Maps

Tesoros Nacionales
FBI Returns Stolen Maps to Spain

11/08/07

A pair of historic world maps took quite a journey around the globe themselves, courtesy of an international art thief. Now, following some investigative legwork by an FBI agent in New York, they are headed across the ocean back home.
A pair of historic world maps took quite a journey around the globe themselves, courtesy of an international art thief. Now, following some investigative legwork by an FBI agent in New York, they are headed across the ocean back home.


It’s a perfect example of why we have a specialized art crime team today, conversant in geography, history, and culture. Not to mention FBI agents working closely with their international counterparts in 60 overseas offices worldwide.

Earlier this year, a man named Cesar Gomez Rivero from Uruguay (on the southeastern shore of South America)…allegedly walked into the Biblioteca Nacional de España (the National Library of Spain in Madrid)…and swiped a series of maps from a 15th century edition of Geographia (one of four major treatises of Ptolemy, the Greek scholar who lived in Roman Egypt during the second century).

To make matters more interesting, so far 11 of the maps have been recovered by law enforcement—in four different countries on four different continents (the U.K., Australia, Argentina, and the U.S., to be specific).

Our role? We got a call from the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard—working through our FBI agent/Legal Attaché in Madrid—to help run down two of the missing maps. An FBI agent, who’s one of our art crime experts and a member of our New York Major Theft Squad, did the legwork and recovered the two maps.

FBI Director Mueller with Joan Mesquida Ferrando (right), Director General of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard.
FBI Director Mueller with Joan Mesquida Ferrando (right), Director General of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard.


And on Thursday, we were pleased to physically return these maps to the Spanish government. In a short ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Director Mueller presented the two historic maps to Joan Mesquida Ferrando, Director General of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard. A satisfying conclusion for all.

More on our Art Crime Team: It’s a dozen trained agents, working throughout the U.S. To date, they’ve recovered more than 850 works of art and national treasures with an estimated price tag of more than $130 million. For more information—and to look over our “Top Ten Art Crimes”—see our Art Theft website.

And please read our National Press Release for more information on the recovery and Thursday’s ceremony.