There is a current issue with Badische Landesbibliothek of Karlsruhe selling off 3000+ medieval manuscripts. Apparently, they are contentiously held by the Counts of Baden, but may actually be state-owned. In any case, they are selling them for reasons unrelated to the preservation of the collection and archive. More info at: http://www.cronaca.com/archives/004613.html English version of the letter of protest: http://archiv.twoday.net/stories/2743873/
In the next few years, as maintenance costs for physical infrastructures increase, I suspect we will be seeing more tendency toward the centralization of manuscripts, and barring that, a tendency toward selling off manuscripts. The case of Karlsruhe likely isn’t unique, of course, as this sort of thing has happened in the past, but we’ve never seen the legal issues, nor the amount of capital involved in this. What happens when people sell collections for this level of profit? How will that affect archiving and archivists? should we work to prevent this, now, and in future situations?