Yikes! A Super-Treasured Book Gets Stolen

by Caitlin White

For a lot of people (myself included) some hard copies of our books are nestled in our hearts because of what they mean to us, where we bought them, or what struck us the first time we read it. No doubt that many people feel this way about Gabriel García Márquez's magical novels. So when a man's signed first edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude was stolen, you can understand how he would find it a painful loss.

Rare book collector Alvaro Castillo had several of his books on display at Bogota's book fair in Colombia, the home country of Márquez himself, including his treasured copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude. This year's book fair in particular was honoring Márquez after his death in April 2014. The Nobel Prize-winning author's masterpiece was stolen from a guarded display case.

“It’s a very painful loss,” Castillo said to The Guardian. He said that while the book is valuable monetarily, its "true value" is sentimental. Castillo had spent several years looking for a first-edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude, and when he finally found one in Uruguay, he was able to get the beloved author to write a dedication inside before he passed away.

So how much is it worth? Well, there are only 8,000 copies in the first run of the book overall, so a signed first-edition is truly a treasure. The Guardian estimates that it could be sold for $23,000 U.S. online. But rather than buying it (with our spare thousands of dollars) let's all agree if we see it online, we let Castillo and the Bogota police know. Especially because police have said that if anyone buys the book online, they could face jail time.

After the theft, Castillo decided to pull the rest of his rare book collection from the fair. Police are currently investigating the crime and have called it a "serious attack on the cultural heritage" of Colombia. If caught, the robber will face between six and 20 years in prison.

Image: chrisjohnbeckett/Flickr; Theo's Little Bot/Wikimedia Commons