Original copy of explorers 1493 letter was found in US Library of Congress, with the one held in Florence proved to be a forgery
A rare copy of a letter written by Christopher Columbus in 1493 that was stolen from a library in Florence has been returned to Italy after US investigators discovered it was in the collection of the Library of Congress.
The return of the letter, which had been sent to the king and queen of Spain, describing the Italian explorers first impressions of the new world, was hailed by US and Italian officials.
But the mystery of how it ended up in the Library of Congress after being sold at auction at Christies in the early 90s is still being investigated by the US Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.
The letter had been stolen from Florences Riccardiana library and replaced with a forgery that no one noticed until US law enforcement officials received a tip in 2012 from a confidential informant.
According to court documents released by the US Justice Department, the individual had been conducting research on the eight-page letter, which was bound in a book along with other documents, and found that it appeared to be printed by lithography rather than type, and did not possess a library stamp as the other documents did.