FBI Boston recovers 495-year-old Hernando Cortés manuscript stolen from Mexico three decades ago

FBI Boston special agents have recovered a 495-year-old manuscript signed by famous Conquistador Hernando Cortés. The Bureau believes that it was stolen from Mexico’s national archives sometime before 1993.

The manuscript is a payment order signed by Cortés on April 27, 1527 authorizing the purchase of rose sugar for 12 gold pesos. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the manuscript is believed to be one of several documents that were lifted from Mexico’s national archives sometime before 1993.

According to the DOJ, an individual cosigned the manuscript for online auction at a Massachusetts auction house. Mexican authorities contacted US federal officials, alerting them that the paperwork was stolen. The auction house then pulled the item from auction, turning it over to Mexican officials.

“As a result of exceptional work by the Asset Recovery Unit in our office and our law enforcement partners, this historic artifact has been recovered. Mexico, like the United States, has national archives and the Cortés manuscript is nearly five centuries old. Our goal in filing today’s forfeiture action is to return the manuscript to its rightful owner,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins.

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