The Case Of The Missing – And Possibly Stolen – $7,000 16th Century Hebrew Bible
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Was it a crime of opportunity?
A rare Hebrew Bible printed in eight volumes in about 1540 has gone missing – and may have been stolen – in the heavily hasidic town of Monsey, New York.
Gene Albert, religious artifacts dealer in Virginia who claims to have sold $3 million worth of religious artifacts over the past decade without incident, sold the eight-volume set on eBay to Jacob Gestetner of Monsey, New York.
Albert shipped the bible October 8 through the US Postal Service without insurance or any other identifying details that might indicate a valuable package. But Albert says he forgot to check the signature required box on the shipping form.
Two days later, tracking information reportedly shows the Post Office delivered the package to Gestetner’s home.
But October 10 was the second day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, when Orthodox and haredi Jews like Gestetner don’t do things like sign for packages.
Gestetner claims the bible never arrived. He reportedly sent Albert a message through eBay on the evening of October 11 saying he had seen the Post Office tracking report but had not received the package.
On Sunday Morning October 12, Albert responded by urging Gestetner to ask his mail carrier about the delivery.
It took an entire week for Gestetner to answer Albert, and when he finally did, he said he still didi not have the rare $7,000 Hebrew Bible.
"So much time went by, I figured he had found it. Why did he wait so long? Either he has it or it was stolen from his mailbox. Either way it's gone and I'm out the money,” Albert told the Journal News.
Albert told FailedMessiah.com that Gester had been completely uncooperative. Albert had difficulty getting Gestetner to answer his calls, and when, finally, Gestetner did, he wasn’t helpful.
“He certainly has not cooperated with me in any way, shape or form,” Albert told FailedMessiah.com
An official at the Monsey Post Office told the Journal News the package was scanned in and was delivered to Gestetner. The official also said that the mail carrier had left the package outside Gestetner's home.
Gestetner refused to comment when asked by the paper.
Albert said he was paid for item, but under eBay rules he has to give Gestetner a full refund.
Albert filed a claim with the US Postal Service.
He also warned the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America to be on the lookout for the $7,000 Hebrew Bible – it posted an alert on its blog – and contacted several synagogues in the Monsey area to ask them to look for the valuable books, as well.