Wytfliets Atlas has been returned

The first of the books that were stolen from the National Library of Sweden ten years ago has been returned. The book, Wytfliets Atlas, was published in 1597.

The announcement that Wytfliets Atlas had been returned was made at a Manhattan press conference on Wednesday. An employee stole the atlas, along with more than 50 other books, from the National Library of Sweden ten years ago and sold it through a Germany auction house.

 Photo: Jens Östman/KB


A member of the library staff happened to notice last summer that Arader Galleries in New York was selling the atlas. As the library could prove that the atlas was its copy, the owner sold it back to Sotheby’s in London, which has now returned it to Sweden.

A national treasure

“We could not be more thrilled that this national treasure has finally been returned,” says National Librarian Gunilla Herdenberg. “I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has helped us recover this irreplaceable work for the library’s collection and the Swedish cultural heritage.”

Published by Cornelis van Wytfliet in 1597, the book is the first atlas devoted to the Americas and contains the first printed map of California.

Only nine copies

According to Map Librarian Greger Bergvall, “There are nine copies of the atlas around the world. This is the second oldest.”

Wytfliets Atlas is the first of the stolen books that has been returned to the National Library of Sweden. The library will press on with its effort to recover the other books in collaboration with its attorneys, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice.

Welcome to see the altas

The recovered book is displayed for the public at the entrance of the Library from Monday July 2 to Friday July 6. 

 Photo: Roland L. Glassman

Steve Feldman from Herrick, Feinstein
Jerker Rydén, Greger Bergvall and Gunilla Herdenberg from the National Library of Sweden

Contact person: Johanna Järnfeldt , e-mail: firstname.lastname@kb.se

National Library