Going, Going, Gone - 5 Times Literary Works Disappeared

Banksy's painting self-destructed immediately after it sold at auction today. (Here's a CNN article link.) Banksy captioned his instagram photo with "Going, going, gone." That reminded us of the far worse ways that art can disappear, and not at the hands of its creator.

Ever wonder about literary theft?

Here's a summary of 5 times literary works were famously stolen...

  • 5. Last year, a short prequel to Harry Potter, handwritten by J.K. Rowling, was stolen during a home burglary.
  • 4. Ernest Hemingway's entire suitcase full of early manuscripts was stolen at a Parisian train station in 1922.
  • 3. Frantz Kafka died in 1924, but his notebooks and letters were later stolen by the Nazis from Dora Diamant's home in Berlin. In the 90s the Kafka Project was launched to search for any documents still missing. (For a deep-dive into this subject, read Ellyne's Staff Pick Kafka's Last Trial.)
  • 2. Walt Whitman's notebooks were stolen from the Library of Congress in 1942, when they were shipped away for safe-keeping during the war. 30 years later they turned up in an attempt to auction them at Sotheby's in New York.
  • 1. One of Shakespeare's First Folios was stolen in 1998 from a library in England. A decade later, a man named Raymond Scott brought an "old English book" to the Folger Shakespeare Library in D.C. for an appraisal. They immediately recognized it as the stolen work. In 2010 Scott was convicted of smuggling the Folio out of England.

For a better summary with a couple more books, check out the Mental Floss's article from last year: