Historic Sixteenth-Century Manuscript to be Returned to Peru from Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia

Federal Bureau of Investigation

PHILADELPHIA, PA — A rare sixteenth-century manuscript, which has been part of the Rosenbach Museum & Library collection for almost a century, is set to return to its rightful home in Peru. The announcement was made on Wednesday by United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero and FBI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs.

The document, dated June 28, 1599, details the formation of the first theatrical company in the Americas in Lima, Peru. The Rosenbach voluntarily transferred the manuscript to the custody of the FBI for its return to the Archivo General de la Nación del Perú, the Peruvian national archives.

The FBI Art Crime Team and the United States Attorney’s Office began an investigation into the manuscript in 2017. They were responding to a request from the Republic of Peru and working in coordination with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. The focus of the investigation was to determine whether the manuscript pages had been wrongfully removed from a bound volume in the Peruvian national archives.

The Rosenbach cooperated fully with the investigation, concluding that the manuscript, purchased in the 1920s by its founder, Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach, had indeed been removed from the bound volume in the archives prior to Dr. Rosenbach’s purchase.

U.S. Attorney Romero praised the efforts leading to the manuscript’s return: “Thanks to the dedicated work and coordination of our Office and our FBI partners, this manuscript will be returned to its rightful place in the Peruvian national archives.”

Wayne Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division, underscored the importance of preserving cultural heritage: “It’s always incredibly gratifying when the FBI’s Art Crime Team is able to recover precious cultural property. We look forward to the day when this rare document is fully repatriated to the government of Peru and its archives. This case exemplifies the Bureau’s continued commitment to preserving the pieces of cultural heritage that help bring history to life.”

The United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI acknowledged the Rosenbach’s cooperation and assistance in this matter and are currently making arrangements for the repatriation of the manuscript pages to the Republic of Peru.

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