Three valuable 16th century medical books, stolen twenty-five years ago from a museum in Rouen and found by “miracle” at the Grenoble hospital, were returned on Tuesday, the conclusion of an “incredible” itinerary. .
These are two works by the famous Flemish Renaissance physician André Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, dating from 1543 and Anatomes totius dating from 1564, estimated respectively at 1.5 million and 850,000 euros, and the works of the surgeon French Ambroise Paré, dating from 1575 and worth around 40,000 euros.
» READ ALSO - File: stories of medicine
“It’s a happy miracle that we found them today in such good condition,” rejoiced Grenoble prosecutor Eric Vaillant, when they were handed over to officials from the Flaubert and History of Medicine Museum in Rouen. , where they were stolen during a conference on November 5, 1998.
Theft is now prescribed. An investigation for receiving stolen goods is, however, “in progress, we will see if it succeeds,” added the prosecutor, specifying that the people who held the books “were in complete good faith.”
The story of the discovery of the three works is “a bit incredible,” said Fabrice Chabin, a judicial police investigator in Grenoble. One of the participants in the conference “was obviously a collector. We would like to know who it is,” he stressed.
The books were first found in 2011 by an employee of the Grenoble University Hospital in a box near a garbage dumpster in the hospital courtyard. He kept them at home for around ten years before his son contacted the Medical Sciences Museum of the CHU, which in turn reported the discovery to the judicial authorities and the Rouen museum.
» READ ALSO - Pills, sugared almonds and arsenic
“From a symbolic point of view, you don't realize what it is for a surgeon to have this in hand,” said François Moutet, former head of hand surgery at the Grenoble University Hospital. Paré and Vesalius were “the two beacons of Western surgery of the Renaissance,” he emphasized. “Imagine if these wonders went into the trash!”
The three works should now find their place in the Rouen pavilion where the writer Gustave Flaubert was born, indicated Laurence Renou, vice-president of cultures for the metropolis of Rouen, who expressed her “gratitude” for this restitution.