Man dubbed ‘The Spine Collector’ arrested over theft of top authors’ manuscripts

Filippo Bernardini, 29, is alleged to have duped top authors including Margaret Atwood and Ethan Hawke by posing as agents, publishing houses and literary scouts. He was arrested in New York

A London-based worker in publishing has been arrested by the FBI accused of masterminding the theft of ­hundreds of manuscripts.

Italian Filippo Bernardini, 29, a rights coordinator at Simon & Schuster in the capital, is alleged to have duped top authors including Margaret Atwood and Ethan Hawke by posing as agents, publishing houses and literary scouts.

Bernardini was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Wednesday on charges of aggravated identity theft and wire fraud.

Officials had named the thief The Spine Collector after he began operating six years ago.

It is alleged he wanted to use the authors’ ideas to write his own masterpiece.

But the FBI said: “He wasn’t creative enough to get away with it.”

Simon & Schuster UK said it was “shocked and horrified”.