Barry H. Landau: Held in Document Theft, ‘America’s Presidential Historian’ Faces New Scrutiny


History Buzz

Source: NYT, 7-16-11

Barry H. Landau, author and well-known presidential memorabilia collector, displayed his connections like pearls on a necklace.

Baltimore Police Department, via Associated Press

Barry H. Landau

Photographs of him with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin and Martha Stewart adorn his Web site, adding celebrity credentials to the title he has given himself: “America’s presidential historian.”

So it was all the more noteworthy when Mr. Landau, 63, who is based in New York City, was arrested last Saturday at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore and charged with stealing historical documents, including ones signed by Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. Landau’s lawyer, Steve Silverman, said he expected Mr. Landau would plead not guilty. He criticized the decision to hold Mr. Landau without bail, and said he had filed a habeas corpus petition to have the ruling reconsidered.

“It’s outrageous,” Mr. Silverman said. “He’s somewhat of a public figure. He’s been on TV shows, and his picture is posted all over the media. There’s little to no risk of flight.”

As the F.B.I. continued to investigate — Mr. Landau had not been arraigned as of Friday — other historical societies were checking their records to see if he had ever visited. Laura Washington, a spokeswoman for the New-York Historical Society, said that he had, and that staff members were going through the records to determine how often.

Lee Arnold, senior director of the library and collections at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, said that Mr. Landau had visited 17 times between December and May, along with Jason Savedoff, 24, who had been working with Mr. Landau and who was arrested with him last weekend….READ MORE

Presidential Historian and Colleague Arrested in Theft of Documents in Maryland


History Buzz

Source: NYT, 7-12-11

A presidential historian and author, Barry H. Landau, was arrested with a colleague on Saturday in Baltimore on charges of stealing historical documents from the Maryland Historical Society, including ones signed by Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. Landau, a collector of presidential memorabilia based in New York City who cultivated actors and former statesmen, was taken into custody after spending several hours reviewing documents at the historical society with a colleague, Jason Savedoff, the Baltimore Police Department said.

An employee called the police to report having seen Mr. Savedoff put a document inside a laptop case and leave the building. The employee followed Mr. Savedoff to a nearby men’s bathroom and identified him when the police arrived.

When confronted by the police, Mr. Savedoff complained of stomach pains, but officers eventually found keys in his pocket, which led to a locker in a nearby building that contained 60 documents worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to an account by the police, who cited an inventory by society employees.

The police said they arrested Mr. Landau because he had signed the documents out for a viewing in the building.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also involved in the case, and a bureau spokesman in Baltimore, Richard Wolf, said Mr. Landau had been charged but not arraigned. The authorities were still determining whether the alleged crime would fall under state or federal jurisdiction, Mr. Wolf said.

In addition to the papers signed by Lincoln, numerous inaugural ball invitations and programs worth about $500,000 and signed commemorations of the Statue of Liberty and Washington Monument were found by the employees, the police said… READ MORE

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