‘America’s Presidential Historian’ Arrested After Allegedly Stealing from the Maryland Historical Society

Being as its summer reading season and that’s when you break out the guilty pleasures, we were really hoping for a good true crime heist story to break. Sure, there was that theft at Beijing’s Forbidden City a few months back and more recently, that New Jersey chef who was just caught after having swiped a Picasso, but we were holding out for something more sensational. Fortunately, the fates have provided. The Baltimore Sun was the first to report on the arrest of Barry H. Landau and his young accomplice after the pair were caught trying to steal artifacts from the Maryland Historical Society. What makes the story juicy is that Landau is a longtime and well-known collector of presidential memorabilia. On his site, he even calls himself “America’s Presidential Historian.” He’s hobnobbed with presidents and celebrities for more than 40 years, starting his collection after a visit with President Eisenhower when he was just ten years old, has made countless media appearances, and wrote the best-selling book The President’s Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy. But now, as the Sun writes, he “sits in Central Booking and is being held without bail.” According to their report, Landau and the “24-year-old Jason Savedoff” spent most of Saturday at the museum looking at documents, after which museum officials eventually spotted the young accomplice “taking a document and concealing it in a portfolio, then walking out of the library.” Police were quick to act and he was apprehended, with Landau following shortly thereafter. It’s sure to be an interesting case, as we’re already riveted by just the crime. Of course it begs the question: what other skeletons are in Landau’s closet (figuratively and perhaps literally as well). Quality summer reading indeed.