The original, called “La Epistola de Insulis Nuper Inventis,” was stolen from the National Library of Catalonia. In what could be a scene stolen from a movie, the original was replaced in its display by a high-quality reproduction, Reuters reports.
"The story began back in 2011 when the United States Homeland Security Investigations Wilmington Office launched the investigation into the copies of the letter written in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, revealing that a number of them had been stolen from libraries in Europe and replaced by forgeries," explained Spanish Ambassador to the U.S. Pedro Morenes.
U.S. Homeland Security and Spain's Guardia Civilia worked together to investigate the crime.
The theft was not publicized, nor was the investigation.
Thus it was a complete surprise when U.S. Homeland Security officials announced that the letter had been recovered on June 6.