British authorities are currently on the hunt for criminals behind a historic heist of the British Museum. Priceless treasures—including jewelry, gems, and precious metals—that span 3,400 years of history were stolen from the museum over a long period of time.
Despite a museum staff member being fired over the heist, so far no arrests have been made. But police say they have “some idea” about the whereabouts of the stolen items.
How Were Such Rare Artifacts Stolen From the British Museum?
Police claim that the items are believed to have been taken over “a long period of time.” None of the pieces had been on public display at the times of the robberies. They were kept in a storeroom for research purposes.
Christopher Marinello—a lawyer and founder of Art Recovery International—said of the stolen items, “From a historical perspective, these artifacts are priceless.
Marinello, while hopeful that the items will be recovered, acknowledges that they could be long gone, telling the Daily Telegraph: “That is the great shame of these criminals, they don’t think of this priceless quality. They think of quick cash.
“They will tend to melt down gold as quickly as possible, and have the gems recut. Look at the Henry Moore statue that was melted down for the value of the raw metal.
“There is no thought of art – criminals are unsophisticated in this sense. That is the great tragedy of these incidents.”
What Artifacts Were Stolen?
While police and the British Museum have not released photos or descriptions of the stolen artifacts, it is believed that their dates of origin range from the 16th to 19th centuries B.C.E.
The majority of missing items were small pieces, such as jewelry or semi-precious stones.
Suspicions have centered on a member of staff named Peter John Higgs, who—despite having been fired—is not currently in custody or being questioned. Higgs denies any wrongdoing.
Perhaps most surprisingly, some of the stolen objects have reportedly appeared on eBay from as early as 2016. One of the for-sale items, a Roman jewelry piece garnered no bids, despite being valued between £25,000 and £50,000. The seller, listed as “Sultan1966” does not have any other listings on the website.
The British Museum Director Resigns
According to anonymous British Museum staff, the museum's director, Hartwig Fischer, was forced to resign as a result of a series of alleged thefts from the institution, with calls for him to step down immediately https://t.co/kXQNQqFDB4— The Art Newspaper (@TheArtNewspaper) August 18, 2023
Due to the heist, many art aficionados called for director Hartwig Fischer to resign, which, as of last week, he has followed through with. However, Fischer claims that his resignation had nothing to do with the heist.