Byebye Ritman library

The problems for the famous Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica get bigger and bigger. The magnificent collection of Hermetic, Alchemistic, Rosicrucian, Theosophic, Christian mystic, etc. etc. manuscripts used to be the private collection of Joost Ritman who became rich making airplane cutlery. For many, many years he bought ancient books and manuscripts, displaying them in a public library, a mouthwatering place to visit with 20.000 items. In 1993 Ritman’s firm almost went bankrupt caused by the airtraffic malaise. He was forced to sell his entire collection of art (including Rembrandts and many ancient and famous works) and to retire as director of his library. For some time, things got better. About 10 years later, the problems returned and it even went so far that the Dutch government spent 18 milion euros to buy a third of the “unreplaceble collection”. These books remained in the library. Now we are again 5 years further down the road, but this time it does not look like things can be overcome for a third time. Apparently Ritman (though no longer director) spent the money that he was supposed to receive from our government (but still did not receive?) to rebuild the library, it even seems that there were plans to move to another location. Because he did not have the money yet, Ritman got yet another loan with his bookcollection as collatoral. Then Ritman thought he again needed more money, so he decided to sell his most expensive book at Sotheby’s, a manuscript about King Arthur which raised 2.8 million euros. Naturally the back did not appreciate that Ritman was selling their collatoral, so they sent a bailiff to ensure what is theirs. Like I said, the problems are not as easily solved this time, so the goverment decided to withdraw their part to the (now closed) library and move them to the Royal Library in Den Haag. The library has been closed for a couple of month and by the look of it, I would say that bankruptcy is inevitable. That would mean the definate end of the most magnificent library in Northern Europe, perhaps even of the world…

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