Barry Landau

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Barry H. Landau (born c. 1948) is a noted thief of presidential artifacts,[1] collector of presidential artifacts,[2][3] author, and "self-styled 'America's Presidential Historian'".[4] In July 2011, Landau's associate, 24-year-old Jason Savedoff, was seen taking a document out of a library.[5] After investigation and searches, he and Savedoff were "charged with stealing valuable historical documents from the Maryland Historical Society and conspiring to steal documents from other archives."[6] After pleading guilty, Landau was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in June 2012.

Biography [edit]

Landau stated his interest in the presidency began at the age of 10, when his mother took him to see then President Dwight D. Eisenhower; he claimed to have spoken with both the president and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower at that time.[3] The Wall Street Journal, however, reported that he wrote a letter to the president and received a card in reply.[7]

He worked as a press agent in New York in the 1970s and 1980s.[3] He also claimed "he was a protocol officer under President Gerald R. Ford and that he once traveled to Moscow with President Richard M. Nixon", though the presidential libraries can find no supporting evidence.[4]

He amassed such a large collection of presidential memorabilia that, in 2005, Larry Bird, a curator of the National Museum of American History, stated that he possessed "the most extensive collection of inaugural memorabilia outside the Smithsonian, the National Archives or the presidential libraries."[3] For the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies turned to him for china plates for the inaugural luncheon.[3]

In 2007, Landau wrote a book titled The President's Table[4] and showed off some prized pieces of his collection on The Martha Stewart Show.[8] He also served as a commentator on CNN and NBC's Today Show.[3]

Thefts [edit]

The staff of the Maryland Historical Society became suspicious of the behavior of frequent visitors Landau and 24-year-old Jason Savedoff, whom Landau had identified as his nephew, though they are not related.[7] Landau "certainly was very personable; he had class. He knew how to conduct himself in a research library, but Savedoff, of whom little is known, was "rough around the edges" and "repeatedly asked naive questions," he said".[5]

On July 9, 2011, a staff member saw Savedoff take a document out of the society's library in Baltimore. The police were called. They found 60 documents hidden in Savedoff's laptop case in a locker, several of them having been signed out by Landau.[9] Multiple searches of Landau's West 57th Avenue apartment by the FBI turned up thousands more documents, 200 of which have been traced back to such institutions as Yale University, the University of Cambridge, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress.[6]

Papers on file in federal court in Maryland show that the FBI also recovered documents stolen from historical societies or museums in Connecticut, Vermont, New York and Pennsylvania.[10]

The two men were jailed in Baltimore and indicted by a federal grand jury in late July.[6] Landau was released with GPS monitoring.[6] Savedoff surrendered his American and Canadian passports, and was released on $250,000 bail.[6]

Both defendants pleaded guilty, Savedoff in October 2011 and Landau in February 2012.[11] On June 27, 2012, Landau was sentenced to seven years in prison.[12]

References [edit]

  1. ^ Hermann, Peter; Kilar, Steve; Bishop, Tricia (February 7, 2012). "Disgraced collector pleads guilty to stealing historical documents". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Barry H. Landau". HarperCollinsCanada. Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Timothy Dwyer (January 14, 2005). "Inaugural Treasure Hunter". Washington Post. 
  4. ^ a b c Justin Jouvenal (July 26, 2011). "Barry Landau: As document-theft probe of historian grows, so do questions on who he is". Washington Post. 
  5. ^ a b Adam Clark Estes (July 13, 2011). "Barry H. Landau: Cupcake Enthusiast, Alleged Paper Purloiner". The Atlantic Wire. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Historian in theft plot seeks to sell off assets". CBS News. September 26, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Ellen Gamerman (September 30, 2011). "The Case of the Disappearing Documents". Wall Street Journal. 
  8. ^ "Presidential Memorabilia". November 2007. Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Presidential historian and collector 'attempted to steal historical worth over a million dollars'". Daily Mail. July 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ Edmund H. Mahony (November 14, 2012). "Stolen Letters". The Hartford Courant. 
  11. ^ Sarah Brumfield (February 7, 2012). "Barry Landau, Presidential Historian, Expected To Plead Guilty In Theft Case". The Huffington Post. 
  12. ^ "Barry Landau Sentenced to 7 Years for Thefts From National Archives, Other Institutions". National Archives. June 27, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2012.