In a shocking incident, a jewelrytheft scandal hits British museum as stolen items sold on eBay.
Valuable jewelry items worth up to $63,000 were stolen from the renowned British Museum in London and subsequently appeared on eBay for sale at remarkably low prices, raising serious concerns about museum security and internal accountability.
The incident has led to a curator's dismissal and ongoing investigations by law enforcement.
Multiple jewelry items, some valued at around £50,000 (approximately $63,000), were reported stolen from the British Museum.
To the astonishment of many, these stolen pieces began surfacing on eBay, being offered for as little as £40 ($50).
The revelation exposed a severe lapse in the museum's security protocols, raising questions about how such precious artifacts could end up on an online marketplace.
An antiquities expert initially voiced suspicions in 2013 that an internal staff member might be involved in pilfering items from the museum's secure vaults.
It was only three years later that the missing jewelry items started to appear on eBay, leading to an internal investigation.
As a result of the investigation, Peter Higgs, a curator who had served for over 30 years as curator of Mediterranean cultures, was terminated from his position.
However, Higgs maintains his innocence, and his son has expressed disbelief at the allegations against his father.
He's not done anything. He's not happy about it at all. He's lost his job and his reputation and I don't think it was fair.- Higgs' 21-year-old son Greg
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.- Higgs' 21-year-old son Greg
The stolen jewelry items comprised a range of precious materials, including gold, semi-precious stones, and glass. These pieces were dated between 1,500 BC and the 19th century AD.
Notably, one piece of ancient Roman jewelry, reportedly worth between £25,000 and £50,000 ($32,000 to $63,000), was offered on eBay for just £40 ($50) in 2016, though no bids were made.
Law enforcement agencies have launched investigations into the thefts, aiming to uncover the full extent of the incident and bring the culprits to justice.
The British Museum, while acknowledging the breach, indicated that it had not cataloged its entire collection of eight million items, making it easier for thefts to go unnoticed.
The museum's response also included an independent review to ascertain the extent of the missing items, recover what has been lost, and strengthen security measures to prevent future thefts.
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
In an intriguing development, some sources have attempted to connect the alleged thefts with the resignation of the British Museum's director, Hartwig Fischer.
However, fresh information suggests that Fischer's resignation is unrelated to the thefts, and an independent source claims the two issues should not be conflated.
The incident has spotlighted the ongoing challenge museums face in maintaining the security of their valuable artifacts.
Particularly, concerns over small object thefts, including gems and jewelry, have taken center stage, prompting renewed discussions about enhancing museum security protocols to safeguard priceless cultural treasures.
As investigations continue, the British Museum finds itself at a critical juncture, balancing the preservation of its remarkable collection with the imperative to secure its exhibits against opportunistic theft.
The jewelry theft scandal at the British Museum has exposed vulnerabilities in its security and cataloging practices.
The curator's alleged involvement and subsequent firing, along with the items appearing on eBay, have prompted a police investigation.
While the museum is taking steps to recover the missing items and prevent future thefts, this incident emphasizes the importance of safeguarding cultural treasures and maintaining robust security measures in prestigious institutions like the British Museum.