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British Museum recovers 268 more missing artefacts following theft scandal

British Museum
British Museum Copyright Credit: Canva Images
Copyright Credit: Canva Images
By Theo Farrant
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The news follows last year's revelation that approximately 2,000 items, including gold and semi-precious stone jewellery, had gone missing.

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The British Museum has tracked down 268 more artefacts that had vanished from its storerooms, bringing the total number of retrieved items to 626. 

The recovery effort comes after the revelation last year that approximately 2,000 items, dating from 1,500BC to the 19th century, and comprising jewellery made of gold and semi-precious stones, were missing, with some even surfacing on eBay.

George Osborne, chairman of the British Museum trustees and former Chancellor, expressed his astonishment: “Few expected to see this day, and even I had my doubts."

“When we announced the devastating news that objects had been stolen from our collection, people understandably assumed that was it – we were unlikely to ever see more than a handful of them again. That’s usually the history with thefts like this," said Osborne. 

He added: “But the team at the British Museum refused to give up. Through clever detective work and a network of well-wishers we’ve achieved a remarkable result: more than 600 of the objects are back with us, and a further 100 have been identified – in total almost half the stolen items that we could recover." 

Inside of the British Museum
Inside of the British MuseumCredit: Canva Images

Last year, a senior staff member suspected of involvement in the disappearance of the items was dismissed. It was later revealed to be Peter Higgs, its curator of Mediterranean cultures.

It emerged that expert antiquarians had warned the British Museum that items which matched those in its collection were appearing for sale on eBay, some for as little as £40 (€46), but these warnings were ignored.

The fallout of the thefts saw its then-director Hartwig Fischer resign, and the museum has since launched its own investigation into the thefts, as well as an appeal for the public’s help in their recovery.

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