In August of last year, Elisabetta Povoledo recounted in The New York Times, “Investigators found boxes of valuable books, many with the library’s stamp, in garages and private homes in several cities as well as in auction houses abroad.” She cited Melillo as saying “So far, we’ve tracked down some 3,000 books.”
Ms. Povoledo related that De Caro told investigators he had moved books to protect them from worms, but they suspected he had stolen the books and destroyed the library catalog cards that corresponded with those books so no-one who became concerned with the obvious gaps in the collection later on would know exactly which books were missing. One obstacle to finding out how many books were stolen is that only half of the 170,000 volumes in the collection were ever cataloged. On this matter, Ms. Provoledo cited Mauro Giancaspro, Director of the Vittorio Emanuele III Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli (Victor Emmanuel III National Library of Naples).
Professor Montanari and Ms. Povoledo both related that De Caro, is not a professional librarian, got the appointment as Library Director through political connections. In April of 2011, Giancarlo Galan, who was then Minister of Culture in the fourth cabinet of Silvio Berlusconi, appointed De Caro a special consultant.
When Ornaghi became Minister of Culture, he re-appointed De Caro as special consultant and in June of 2011 he named De Caro Director of the Library of Gerolamini. Ms. Povoledo quoted Claudio Gatti, author of Il Sottobosco (“The Underworld”) as saying, “De Caro is the quintessential Italian fixer. In a country where the political class still controls a significant part of the national economy, he connects politics with business, and vice versa.”
On March 15, 2013, a judge sentenced De Caro to seven years in prison and banned him from ever holding public office again. On August 28, 2013, Professor Montanari recounted that in September of 2011, just three months after Minister Galan appointed him Library Director, De Caro had chosen to sell books he stole through the auction house Zisska, Schauer and delivered 600 volumes to his accomplice, Luca Cableri, an antiquarian bookseller in return for the sum of €1,000,000 and the understanding he would receive more money after the auction through an intermediary in Switzerland. He also reported the famous antiquarian bookseller Philip Rotundo, who has offices in Rome and New York City, was shocked in April of 2012 to see books that had the Gerolamini stamps “badly abraded, and covered with course imitations (even with photocopies) of other bookplates chosen at random” offered for sale.
Ms. Povoledo also related that two American scholars had identified instances when De Caro was connected to the sale of books that seemed to be forgeries of books by Galileo Galilei. Nick Wilding, Assistant Professor of History at Georgia State University, believed that two copies of Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius – one that had appeared in a 2005 Sotheby’s catalog and another that had been offered for sale in New York City – were forgeries. The one in New York supposedly had Galileo’s inscription and four of his watercolors, but both it and the one from the Sotheby’s catalog had markings that indicated to Professor Povoledo they were copies of a 1964 facsimile edition of Sidereus Nuncius.
De Caro had tried to sell the copy now in New York to Owen Gingrich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and the History of Science at Harvard and senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Professor Gingrich concluded Galileo could not have produced the watercolors because of an “astronomical blunder.”
Gingrich and J. Franklin Mowery, Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., have detected other forged books, including three copies of Galileo’s Le Operazioni del Compasso Geometrico e Militare, at least one of which De Caro had passed off as an antiquarian book. Apropos of De Caro, Professor Wilding told Ms. Povoledo, “I don’t know if he commissioned, or manufactured them, bought them repeatedly or was just unlucky.”
 Victor Emmanuel III (1869-1947) King of Italy (1900-1946) was the third member of the House of Savoy to rule a united Italy after his grandfather King Victor Emmanuel II (1820-1878), King of Sardinia (1849-1861) unified Italy in 1861. He inherited the throne when an anarchist assassinated his father, King Umberto I (1844-1900). His rule encompassed both of the Great World Wars. For nearly half his reign, the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) held the real power as dictator from 1923 to 1944. Victor Emmanuel legitimated Mussolini’s takeover by appointing him prime minister. Mussolini, who longed to restore the glory days of the Roman Empire, conquered the Empire of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War (1935-36) and gave Emperor Haile Selassie I’s title to Victor Emanuel as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1936. During World War II, which Mussolini joined on the side of his more successful imitator Adolf Hitler, Mussolini conquered the Kingdom of Albania and gave the title of King Zog I (1895-1961) to Victor Emanuel III as King of the Albanians in 1939. Mussolini’s conquests in Africa and Europe (which included Greece) had to be shored up by Nazi Germany and as the Allies defeated German-Italian forces, Mussolini’s conquests were lost along with Hitler’s. In 1943, the Allies conquered Sicily. On July 24, 1943, the Grand Council of Fascism voted to remove Mussolini from power and have King Victor Emmanuel resume the exercise of real power. The next day, King Victor Emmanuel replaced him as prime minister with Marshal Pietro Badoglio (1871-1956), and had him arrested. In September, General Giuseppe Castellano (1893-1977) negotiated a separate armistice with the Allies. German forces disarmed the Italian Royal Army, Navy, and Air Force and occupied Mainland Italy. The next month King Victor Emmanuel and Prime Minister Badoglio, who had sought refuge in Malta, declared war on Nazi Germany. The Gestapo arrested Victor Emmanuel’s daughter Princess Mafalda Maria Elisabetta Anna Romana of Savoy (1902-1944) while she was in Bulgaria to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law, Tsar Boris III. She died at Buchenwald as a result of injuries she suffered when American planes bombed the concentration camp. SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny (1908-1975) led a Waffen SS raid to rescue Mussolini from the Hotel Campo Imperatore, the mountaintop hotel where he was imprisoned. Hitler placed Mussolini in charge of the Italian Social Republic, a Fascist rump state in Northern Italy and the Adriatic Littoral – two German-occupied zones of Italy (gained when the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed) and Yugoslavia corresponding with Slovenia and western Croatia – that Mussolini ruled as a German puppet until Communist partisans rose up against his rule on April 25, 1945 and killed him, along with his mistress, Clara Petacci (1912-1945), on April 28, 1945. The Allies liberated Rome on June 4, 1944. In April of 1944, King Victor Emmanuel transferred many of his constitutional powers to Crown Prince Umberto (1904-1983). On May 9, 1946, Victor Emmanuel abdicated in favor of his son, who briefly reigned as Umberto II, but in a referendum that year a slim majority (54%) of his subjects voted to abolish the monarchy and become citizens of the Republic of Italy. Victor Emmanuel fled to Egypt, where he died, and was buried in St. Catherine’s Cathedral.