The book thief who duped famous authors
It was the stuff of novels: For years, a con artist plagued the publishing industry, impersonating editors and agents to pull off hundreds of literary heists. But the manuscripts obtained from high-profile authors were never resold or leaked, rendering the thefts all the more perplexing.
The Thursday sentencing of Filippo Bernardini in Manhattan federal court in New York brought the saga to an end and, with it, finally some answers. After pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud in January, Bernardini was sentenced to time served, avoiding prison on a felony charge that carried up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of at least a year.
Bernardini, now 30, impersonated hundreds of people over the course of the scheme that began around August 2016 and obtained more than a thousand manuscripts, including from high-profile authors like Margaret Atwood (pictured) and Ethan Hawke, authorities have said.
Bernardini — an Italian citizen and British resident who was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in January 2022 — will be deported from the U.S. Court documents show he asked to be deported to the United Kingdom, where he lives with his partner and dog, with Italy as the designated alternative.
As part of his guilty plea, Bernardini agreed to pay $88,000 in restitution, which court documents show will go to Penguin Random House.