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May 6, 2015

Manuscript worth $60,000 stolen at International Book Fair


Gabriel Garcia Marquez ©Jose Lara; via Wikimedia Commons

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
©Jose Lara; via Wikimedia Commons

A rare bookseller, attempting to celebrate the dedication of this year’s International Book Fair to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, lost his prized first edition, signed copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude. According to BBC News, Alvaro Castillo lent his edition of the late Nobel Prize-winning writer’s beloved novel to the fair, being held in Colombia, where it was being exhibited in a locked cabinet.

Alvaro Castillo, who trades in rare books, said he purchased the 1967 first edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude in a bookshop in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, in 2006.

Garcia Marquez later signed the copy and dedicated it to Mr Castillo with the words: “To Alvaro Castillo, the old-book seller, as yesterday and forever, your friend, Gabo”.

Mr Castillo would not say how much he paid for the copy or how much more it would be worth with the dedication, but stressed that to him it was priceless.

Accorsding to the LA Times, Castillo’s copy may have been worth as much as $60,000.

In 1967, Garcia Marquez, a journalist-turned-author, had yet to prove that he could be successful as a novelist. There were only 8,000 copies of Cien años de soledad printed, so they are both rare and valuable. Eventually the book, which has been translated into 37 languages, has gone on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide.

Garcia Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982. He died in 2014, after publishing about two dozen books, at age 87.

The Fair has confirmed the disappearance.

“We regret to confirm the theft,” an organizer told EFE.

The Colombian Literature Chamber later and congress center Corferias said in a press release that they “regret the incident that took place in the Macondo stand dedicated to Garcia Marquez.”


Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.