On its website, the British Museum published photos resembling some of the hundreds of pieces stolen from its collections on Tuesday (September 26), asking for the public’s help in finding lost antiquities.
Last August, the British Museum revealed that almost 2,000 objects, mainly jewelry, semi-precious stones and glassware, belonging to the Department of Greco-Roman Antiquities, had been stolen from storage. These objects were allegedly stolen by the department’s chief curator, Peter Higgs, who was fired at the beginning of the year. The scandal led to the resignation of the museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer, and his deputy, Jonathan Williams.
On its website, the institution did not give precise details about the stolen objects, in order to protect them. “Providing too many details risks allowing those who hold such works and act in bad faith to avoid detection”explained James Ratcliffe, member of Art Loss Register, at Guardian. In the case of jewelry from the British Museum, there is, in fact, a risk that the holders will melt the gold settings to resell the precious metal.
So far, “60 objects have been recovered, and 300 others identified should be returned shortly”, the museum said in a press release. He did not reveal how many antiques were identified among the remaining 1,600 missing items. Some of them would not have been photographed or described exhaustively, which could make their identification more difficult.
The London institution has set up a group of specialists to help recover lost antiquities. Members include James Ratcliffe, as well as Lynda Albertson of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art. The other 12 members are mainly specialists in precious stones and antique jewelry, based in Europe. Only two are based in the UK and one in the US. The operation is led by the museum’s Greco-Roman antiquities department, which can be contacted at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The British Museum also registered the stolen objects on the Art Loss Register, an international database consulted by art professionals, collectors, insurers and law enforcement. .
Roman gold bracelet, 2nd – 3rd centuries BC
© British Museum