Antiques dealer stole £1.6m of maps

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The Independent Online

The British Library is asking a US judge to give a renowned antiques dealer a stiff sentence for stealing nearly 100 precious historic maps, saying the thefts "ripped at the heart" of the institutions targeted.

Edward Forbes Smiley III admitted removing 97 rare charts worth an estimated total of £1.6m, including a representation of the world from the British Library dating from 1520 and valued at £53,000.

He is likely to be sentenced to up to six years in prison and fined up to $1.6m (£860,000) after pleading guilty to the thefts .

But the British Library argued in that the maps he stole were far more important than their estimated worth and that Smiley should get a longer term behind bars. The maximum sentence is 10 years.

"The maps stolen by Smiley created the dreams of the explorer, merchant and powerful," the library wrote. "They charted the paths of national expansion and empire building. They marked the rise of British dominance, the origins of a new nation and the demise of a native population."

Smiley is due to be sentenced on 27 September.