- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The eccentric English antiques dealer who appeared last summer at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington with a rare and missing collection of Shakespeare plays is attempting to turn his trial into a comedy.

Raymond Scott, 52, arrived at an English courthouse riding in a horse-drawn carriage and wearing a tartan kilt.

He faces charges of theft and handling stolen goods in connection with the disappearance of the 1623 book known as the First Folio — considered one of the most important manuscripts in the English-speaking world.

“It’s a rather dull, gray world all in all, and I’d like to add a little bit of color,” he said outside Durham Crown Court, where he sipped from a bottle of the Scottish liqueur Drambuie. “Even if I was accused of stealing a tin of corned beef from Tesco, I’d still arrive in such a fashion.”

His arrival was preceded by a bagpiper playing traditional Scottish tunes and included a Frank Sinatra impersonator serenading Mr. Scott with “My Way.”

The Folio is valued at between $2.5 million and $5 million.

Mr. Scott did not enter a plea Friday in the 15-minute hearing and is free on bail. The case was transferred to nearby Newcastle Crown Court, where hearings will resume in the coming weeks. A trial is expected to take place next June, a court clerk said.

Some of the testimony is supposed to come via video from U.S. officials involved in the case and from Cuba, where Mr. Scott said he acquired the book.

The book was published about seven years after William Shakespeare’s death. It includes 36 of his plays and is considered the only reliable text for about 20 of them.

Mr. Scott appeared to draw most of his inspiration Friday from “Macbeth,” also known as “the Scottish play.”

In addition to wearing the Highland costume, Mr. Scott flawlessly recited one of Macbeth’s speeches outside the courthouse.

“… Tis a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” he said as an attractive female assistant, also in tartan, hung on his arm.

Mr. Scott visited the Capitol Hill library in June 2008, saying he wanted somebody to authenticate the book. It remains unclear whether Mr. Scott claims he bought the book in Cuba or was acting as an agent for someone else.

Still, he maintains the book that was in his possession was not the stolen one. A Folger spokesman said only that each book has unique markings and no two are alike.

Folger officials became suspicious that the book was stolen in 1988 from Durham University’s Palace Green Library in England.

Mr. Scott left the hefty, large-format book at the Folger and returned to England. Officials at the library, home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials, contacted officials who interviewed and eventually arrested Mr. Scott.

Police seized hundreds of other books and Mr. Scott’s silver Ferrari as part of the investigation.

The First Folio that was in Mr. Scott’s possession is one of about 230 still around and was returned to the university, several miles from where Mr. Scott lives with his widowed mother.

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