Colombian police are investigating the theft of a valuable first edition copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude.
The book disappeared over the weekend from a display case at Bogota's book fair, which this year is honouring the late Nobel Prize-winning author.
The first edition is just one of 8,000 copies published in 1967 by an Argentine editorial house Sudamericana, and a signed copy like the one stolen in Bogota can command as much as USD 23,000 online.
But the book's owner, Alvaro Castillo, says the true value is sentimental. The rare book collector says he spent years hunting for the copy before finding a copy in Uruguay. He then managed to get Garcia Marquez, who died last year in Mexico City, to sign a dedicatory note.
"It's a very painful loss," Castillo told The Associated Press on Monday after pulling the rest of his book collection from the fair.
Police are so far at a loss to explain how the book was snatched from the locked case and are reviewing the recordings of a single video camera at the entrance to the "Macondo" pavilion, named in honour of the fictitious Caribbean town where "One Hundred Years of Solitude" takes place, for clues.
Meanwhile the book fair's organisers are apologising and pleading with the thieves to return the book, which they said would be next to impossible to resell because of its distinctive characteristics.