Copernicus, Galileo, Ptolemy and the rest

Since the recent opening up of the Eastern Bloc countries and the old Soviet Union, the artistic heritage of these countries has been systematically plundered. More to the point, the old books of the national, public or university libraries have come under the control of the plunderers, who may be either individuals acting on their own account, or international organised gangs. Working to order for wealthy Western collectors or reselling openly the products of their thieving through official channels (sale rooms, booksellers), these thieves do incalculable harm to the heritage of these countries. The cases that have come to light recently are probably only a very small part of an immense amount of pillaging that exists only because the thieves are able to find rich clients in Western countries.