British Museum thief 'stole and destroyed nearly 2,000 artefacts'

British Museum serial thief ‘stole and destroyed nearly 2,000 precious artefacts worth millions of pounds for YEARS without going detected’

  • Items, some of which are 3,500 years old, have disappeared from the museum

Nearly 2,000 artefacts from the British Museum are thought to have been stolen or destroyed by just one thief, it has been claimed tonight.

The suspected criminal, who is believed to have been plundering the museum for years, could have removed millions of pounds worth of items without being detected.

The scale of the losses is said to have shocked staff at the museum after they were discovered following an internal probe into Peter Higgs, the curator of Mediterranean cultures who was sacked this summer. He denies any wrongdoing. 

The world-famous institution has refused to say how many items have gone missing, but the Telegraph reports that sources inside the museum believe the true number to be over 1,000 and ‘closer to 2,000’.

It was revealed yesterday that the British Museum hid the disappearance of the valuable items from the public for eight months after calling in the police in January this year. 

It is believed as many as 2,000 precious items from the British Museum have been stolen or destroyed by a single thief

The sheer scale of the losses was revealed after an internal investigation into Peter Higgs (pictured), the curator of Mediterranean cultures who was sacked this summer. He denies any wrongdoing

Police are investigating the losses, although no arrests have been made so far in relation to the thefts.

The Rev Prof Martin Henig, a University of Oxford expert on Roman art, called the scandal ‘totally unforgivable’.

He told the Telegraph: ‘This is the worst case that I’ve come across like this because it involves not just selling the odd object, but also destruction.’

He added that although the items are small, ‘they were particularly valued in antiquity and they tell us more than sculpture about life in the past. They were very intimate items’.

One source told the publication the museum had been ‘negligent and incompetent’ in how it had dealt with the thefts and the subsequent discovery. 

READ MORE HERE:  British Museum kept the disappearance of multi-million pound artefacts a secret for more than eight months after alerting the police in January 

A British Museum spokesman told the publication: ‘This is all now subject to a police investigation as well as the independent review. We cannot comment further.’ 

It was claimed over the weekend that chiefs at the museum showed a ‘lack of reaction’ after being warned treasures from its inventory were being sold online.

Dr Ittai Gradel, an expert in Roman antiquities raised the alarm after spotting artefacts for sale that had appeared in a museum catalogue almost a century ago. 

The Danish academic claimed he alerted the British Museum in February 2021 and was ‘not pleased with the reaction or lack of reaction I had from them’.

He suggested that the culprit may have also taken ‘unregistered items’ from the museum collection, but ‘became so sloppy that they put on eBay two items that had been published in the British Museum catalogue from 1926’.

His remarks followed last month’s sacking of Peter John Higgs, a curator who worked at the museum for over 30 years, after jewellery, gems and precious metals spanning more 3,000 years vanished from the archives.

It subsequently emerged that a number of the items had previously appeared on eBay at rock bottom prices.

They include an item of Roman jewellery made from onyx which was advertised on the site in 2016 with a price tag of £40. Experts believe the piece, which did not attract any bids, is actually worth between £25,000 and £50,000.

Police are investigating, although Mr Higgs’s family insist he is innocent and no arrests have been made.

Source: Read Full Article