Press/Journalists

Press Release
February 27, 2013

National Archives Examines Theft of America's National Treasures March 7

Barry Landau, Jason Savedoff, and their Conspiracy to Steal History

Washington, DC…On Thursday, March 7, 2013, at noon, the National Archives hosts a discussion on the theft of America’s national treasures – and ways to prevent such thefts in the future. Archivist David S. Ferriero will provide opening remarks for presentations by Mitchell Yockelson, Investigative Archivist with the National Archives Office of the Inspector General, and Jim Warwick, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance located on Constitution at 7th St., NW.

On July 10, 2011, the archival world was turned upside down when news broke that two men from New York, Barry Landau and Jason Savedoff, were caught stealing historical documents from the Maryland Historical Society. After their arrest by the Baltimore City Police and incarceration, the FBI and the National Archives Office of Inspector General (OIG) began an investigation and a search warrant was executed on Landau’s Manhattan residence. In only a few hours, agents from the FBI and OIG removed boxes of incriminating evidence -- more than 7,000 historical documents. Another search warrant was issued a few weeks later and an additional 3,000 items were seized as evidence, including priceless documents in the hand of Frank Delano Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, and Charles Dickens; as well thousands of items of Presidential memorabilia.

The investigation revealed that Landau and Savedoff had taken many of these items from archival repositories throughout the United States. The investigation uncovered a conspiracy to steal objects of cultural heritage over a course of several years by Landau and Savedoff who posed as researchers during frequent visits to the repositories. Cooperation between the OIG and law enforcement led to the prosecution and sentencing of both men.

The Archivist has stated: “The security of the holdings of the National Archives is my highest priority. I will not tolerate any violation of the law that protects both records and property that belongs to the U.S. government and the American people.” He added that “any theft of our nation’s records is an irreplaceable loss. We at the National Archives must remain constantly vigilant, to ensure the protection of our nation’s precious heritage, while at the same time balancing the right of every American to have access to original records.”

Under the current leadership, the National Archives has become more vigilant, by ensuring the establishment of the Holdings Protection Team to assess, determine, and implement security measures to ensure the public's access to their holdings. The Holdings Protection Team has instituted a program of security studies, risk assessments, and increased security, monitoring, and screening at National Archives facilities nationwide. The Holdings Protection Team provides training to National Archives archivists and research room staff (and other employees), as well as to staff at other institutions, all aimed at increasing awareness and communication of security issues. The National Archives has also instituted a number of other measures aimed at preventing theft, such as closed-circuit cameras, exit searches, mandatory staff training, and outgoing mail inspections.

The National Archives is fully accessible, and Assisted Listening Devices are available in the McGowan Theater upon request. To request a sign language interpreter for a public program, please send an email to public.program@nara.gov or call 202-357-5000 at least two weeks prior to the event. To verify dates and times of the programs, call 202-357-5000 or view the Calendar of Events online. To contact the National Archives, please call 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA (TDD 301-837-0482).

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.

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