Harvard eyes 1612 Canada map in auction

Oct. 13, 2008 at 9:44 AM

OTTAWA, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Harvard University experts are interested in a rare print of a 1612 map of Canada set to be auctioned in England after their copy went missing in 2005.

Sotheby's auction house in London is set to auction the print of the map done by French explorer Samuel de Champlain next month for as much as $80,000 for an undisclosed owner, the Canwest News Service reported.

However, Harvard spokeswoman Beth Brainard told the news service the university is considering sending an expert to London to rule out the possibility the university's lost treasure has ended up at auction.

An unidentified Sotheby's spokesman said the map being sold was already being checked as a matter of policy against a U.S.-based lost art registry.

In 2005, the map was among items stolen in a string of thefts from major libraries in the United States and Britain, the report said.

Massachusetts collector and dealer E. Forbes Smiley admitted to being behind some of the thefts and helped recover some of the artifacts as part of a plea bargain, but the Champlain map was not among them. He is serving three years in a U.S. prison, the report said.

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