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Jewelry worth up to $63,000 was stolen from one of the world’s top museums and sold on eBay for as little as $50, report says

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British Museum in London, January 25, 2023.

REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Several jewelry items worth up to $63,000 were stolen from the British Museum in London.
Items later appeared on eBay, priced for as little as $50.
A museum curator suspected of being behind the thefts was fired, and police are investigating.

A curator has been fired from the British Museum in London after stolen jewelry was found being sold cheaply on eBay, a report says.

Some of the items were worth up to £50,000, or approximately $63,000, and were listed on eBay for as little as £40, or $50, according to British newspaper The Telegraph.

An antiquities expert reported suspicion that a staff member was stealing from secure vaults at the museum in 2013, and the missing items began turning up on eBay three years later.

Peter Higgs, 56, who held the position of curator of Mediterranean cultures at the museum for over three decades, was fired after an internal investigation.

Higgs’ 21-year-old son Greg maintained that his father is innocent.

“He’s not done anything,” Greg Higgs said, per The Times of London. “He’s not happy about it at all. He’s lost his job and his reputation and I don’t think it was fair.” 

“He’s devastated about it, because it’s his life’s work, basically. I’ve never known somebody who’s so passionate about what he did.”

The museum said on Wednesday that several items of jewelry made of gold, semi-precious stones, and glass, dating from between 1,500 BC and the 19th century AD, were among those missing, The Telegraph reported. Other items had been damaged.

One piece of ancient Roman jewelry made from onyx – that a dealer said was valued between £25,000 and £50,000, or $32,000 and $63,000 – was listed on eBay with a minimum price of £40, or around $50, in 2016. Nobody made a bid for the treasure, however, The Telegraph reported.

The police are now investigating the thefts.

The museum has not properly cataloged all eight million items in its collection, which makes it easier for thefts to go undetected, sources told The Telegraph.

“Major things do get cataloged. There are a lot of minor things which are not, or which are all lumped together,” Professor Martin Henig, a Roman art expert at the University of Oxford, told the paper.

An independent review is underway to establish what is missing, attempting to recover the missing items and preventing future thefts.

A spokesman for the British Museum told the paper: “We have conducted a thorough investigation, identified the person we believe to be responsible, and that person has been dismissed. We are also taking further robust action to ensure this can never happen again.”

“The whole question of thefts at the museum is now subject to a criminal investigation, so we cannot comment further.”

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British Museum in London, January 25, 2023.

REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Several jewelry items worth up to $63,000 were stolen from the British Museum in London.
Items later appeared on eBay, priced for as little as $50.
A museum curator suspected of being behind the thefts was fired, and police are investigating.

A curator has been fired from the British Museum in London after stolen jewelry was found being sold cheaply on eBay, a report says.

Some of the items were worth up to £50,000, or approximately $63,000, and were listed on eBay for as little as £40, or $50, according to British newspaper The Telegraph.

An antiquities expert reported suspicion that a staff member was stealing from secure vaults at the museum in 2013, and the missing items began turning up on eBay three years later.

Peter Higgs, 56, who held the position of curator of Mediterranean cultures at the museum for over three decades, was fired after an internal investigation.

Higgs’ 21-year-old son Greg maintained that his father is innocent.

“He’s not done anything,” Greg Higgs said, per The Times of London. “He’s not happy about it at all. He’s lost his job and his reputation and I don’t think it was fair.” 

“He’s devastated about it, because it’s his life’s work, basically. I’ve never known somebody who’s so passionate about what he did.”

The museum said on Wednesday that several items of jewelry made of gold, semi-precious stones, and glass, dating from between 1,500 BC and the 19th century AD, were among those missing, The Telegraph reported. Other items had been damaged.

One piece of ancient Roman jewelry made from onyx – that a dealer said was valued between £25,000 and £50,000, or $32,000 and $63,000 – was listed on eBay with a minimum price of £40, or around $50, in 2016. Nobody made a bid for the treasure, however, The Telegraph reported.

The police are now investigating the thefts.

The museum has not properly cataloged all eight million items in its collection, which makes it easier for thefts to go undetected, sources told The Telegraph.

“Major things do get cataloged. There are a lot of minor things which are not, or which are all lumped together,” Professor Martin Henig, a Roman art expert at the University of Oxford, told the paper.

An independent review is underway to establish what is missing, attempting to recover the missing items and preventing future thefts.

A spokesman for the British Museum told the paper: “We have conducted a thorough investigation, identified the person we believe to be responsible, and that person has been dismissed. We are also taking further robust action to ensure this can never happen again.”

“The whole question of thefts at the museum is now subject to a criminal investigation, so we cannot comment further.”

Read the original article on Business Insider
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Read more

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