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Art & Culture

British Museum Recovers 268 More Missing Artifacts After Theft Scandal

  • Grace Angelique
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  • June 13, 2024
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  • 3 minute read
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British Museum Recovers 268 More Missing Artifacts After Theft Scandal

The British Museum has recovered 268 more missing artifacts after a major theft scandal, bringing the total to 626 recovered items.

Key Takeaways
  • The British Museum has successfully recovered 626 missing or stolen artifacts, with 268 recently located.
  • The scandal involved the theft of over 1,500 items, some of which were sold on eBay for a fraction of their value.
  • Significant changes in museum leadership and a comprehensive review of security and governance have followed this heist.

The Scale of the British Museum Theft Scandal

In August last year, the British Museum announced the shocking news that stunned the world of art and history.

The museum revealed that 1,500 items had gone missing or been stolen, including gold and semi-precious stone jewelry from 1,500 BC to the 19th century.

Some of these valuable items had even been found on eBay, sold for much less than their worth.

The First Recovery and Changes in Leadership

After this discovery, the museum recovered around 350 items by February.

The investigation pointed to Peter Higgs, a senior curator of Mediterranean cultures, as the main suspect.

Higgs had allegedly been stealing items for over 30 years and selling them online. This scandal led to immediate and significant leadership changes.

Hartwig Fischer, the then British Museum director, resigned, and deputy director Jonathan Williams also left after an independent review.

Recent Success in Recovering More Items

Recently, the British Museum found 268 more artifacts, bringing the total number of recovered items to 626.

These objects were found through careful detective work and help from supporters across Europe and North America.

The museum is still looking for about 100 other missing items, showing its strong commitment to retrieving all of its lost pieces.

Public Appeal and Ongoing Search

George Osborne, the chairman of the museum trustees, expressed his surprise at the progress made.

He praised the museum’s team’s hard work and the public’s support, making it clear that the search is not over.

Osborne asked anyone with information to come forward, highlighting the importance of community help in finding the remaining missing items.

Improving Museum Security and Future Plans

After the scandal, an independent review made 36 suggestions for improving the museum’s security, governance, and record-keeping.

The museum has promised to document its entire collection within five years, which will cost $12.1 million.

This is important to prevent future thefts and ensure all artifacts are well-protected and recorded.

Renewed Calls to Return Culturally Significant Items

The scandal has also restarted discussions about returning items like the Benin Bronzes and the Parthenon Marbles to their original countries.

Notably, officials from Nigeria and Greece have renewed their requests for the repatriation of these culturally significant artifacts.

The British Museum’s new focus on being open and accountable might influence these talks, possibly leading to significant changes in how historical artifacts are handled worldwide.

Pursuit for the Remaining Missing Artifacts

While finding 268 more artifacts is a big success, the British Museum’s work is not finished.

The museum still needs to recover the remaining missing items and implement robust measures to prevent future thefts.

With support from the community, careful investigation, and thorough security improvements, the British Museum aims to restore its reputation and keep its valuable collection safe for future generations.

Grace Angelique

Grace Angelique

An accomplished Art News Journalist with a decade of experience, Grace has covered global art events, exhibitions, and emerging trends. Her work has graced major publications, offering readers a fresh perspective on contemporary art and its evolving landscape.

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