University of London library director resigns over Shakespeare folio sale


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The Independent Online

The director of the University of London’s Senate House Library has announced that he is resigning, following reports of his relationship with an employee at the auction house through which he planned on selling rare Shakespeare folios.

Christopher Pressler caused uproar last month when the library’s proposal to sell part of its Shakespeare collection surfaced.

The works included several first printed editions of Shakespeare’s plays and had been donated to the university by Sir Louis Sterling, an American Philanthropist, under the condition that they were permanently housed in the library.

When the sale was originally suggested, Mr Pressler claimed that the four folios – estimated to be worth £5m – could benefit the library by making money to buy more modern manuscripts.

However, the university eventually decided to abandon the plans after the proposal was branded "an act of stupidity of the highest order", by Brian Vickers, a visiting professor at University College London.

Other academics also attacked the plans which were said to undermine the university’s reputation and deter people from making future bequests.

Mr Pressler, who has been working at the library for the past three years has announced that he’ll be resigning for "personal reasons", adding: “Following much thought, I have decided to resign as director for personal reasons and in order to pursue other opportunities. I look forward to seeing the library grow from strength to strength and I wish it, and all the staff in it, the very best.”

His resignation comes shortly after it was discovered that he had a romantic relationship with an employee from Bonhams.

Academics had previously questioned why Bonhams had been chosen for the sale of the books instead of more established companies such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s, but were simply told that it provided good value for money.

The librarian has now reportedly admitted that he failed to follow the university’s rules regarding potential conflicts of interest by not informing them of his seven-year relationship with the Bonhams’ employee.

A spokesperson from the university said: "Mr Pressler accepts that the correct process was not followed. However, the university’s management is satisfied with Mr Pressler’s assurances that at all times he has acted in good faith and in the best interests of the library."

The university has also confirmed that Mr Pressler’s partner had not been involved in any part of the plan to sell the rare texts.