Alleged Theft from the British Museum: Precious Artifacts Surface on eBay

A scandal erupts as priceless artifacts allegedly stolen from the British Museum surface on eBay. Peter John Higgs is accused but remains uncharged.

A piece of Roman jewelry, allegedly stolen from the British Museum, appeared on eBay with a starting bid of just £40, while its estimated worth ranges from £25,000 to £50,000.
Peter John Higgs, a curator with 30 years of service at the British Museum, is suspected of being behind the theft.
eBay and the British Museum are working closely with law enforcement agencies to resolve the case.

eBay Listings Raise Eyebrows: The British Museum Scandal Unfolds

You’d think eBay would be the last place you’d find stolen artifacts from the British Museum, right? Well, think again. A piece of Roman jewelry with an estimated value of £25,000 to £50,000 had surfaced on the platform with a surprisingly low starting bid of just £40. Now, how could that happen, you wonder?

According to a report by The Telegraph, the precious objects allegedly taken from the British Museum were listed for sale on eBay as far back as 2016. The person suspected of orchestrating this audacious act? None other than Peter John Higgs, a celebrated curator who has served the museum for three decades. Talk about a curveball!

Piecing Together the eBay Puzzle

Curiously enough, the Roman jewelry piece listed on eBay garnered zero bids. The seller, operating under the username “Sultan1966,” seemed to have vanished into the digital ether, as further searches produced no additional listings under that name.

Notably, art historian Bendor Grosvenor had unearthed the item’s museum classification details, which showed its production dating between the 1st and 2nd centuries. And if you’re searching the museum’s online database, don’t bother. The entry for the item merely states, “not on display,” making the mystery even murkier.

A scandal erupts as priceless artifacts allegedly stolen from the British Museum surface on eBay. Peter John Higgs is accused but remains uncharged.

The Artifacts Beyond the Auction: What Else Is Going On?

Jason Feltch, the man behind the Chasing Aphrodite blog, did not mince words. He posted, “Most of it [ancient material on eBay] is assumed to be fake. But apparently there are also some things straight from the bowels of the British Museum on there.” His post also linked to a page full of unverified images, pointing at the vast, gray marketplace that eBay can sometimes be.

Who’s Saying What: The Official Stances

An eBay spokesperson stated that the company maintains a “dedicated law enforcement liaison team” and is cooperating fully with the Metropolitan Police. “If we identify that a listing on our site is stolen, we immediately remove it,” they added, assuring that eBay takes the sale of stolen property seriously.

Similarly, the British Museum declined to offer further comments due to the ongoing police investigation. This has raised questions, especially from the Chasing Aphrodite blog, about why no pictures of the missing objects have been released, or why Higgs hasn’t been arrested.

Museums: A Trust Betrayed?

Martyn Whittock, historian and author, put it succinctly when he said, “Museums are repositories of yesterday for today and tomorrow… it’s not for anybody to put [items] on eBay.”

Higgs was once the head of the department for Greece and Rome at the British Museum and was the lead curator for the exhibition “Ancient Greeks: athletes, warriors, and heroes,” in 2021. But now, it seems, his family is in a race against time to clear his name. His son Greg told The Times, “He’s not done anything. He’s lost his job and his reputation, and I don’t think it was fair. It couldn’t have been him.”

So, where does this leave us? No arrests have been made yet, but the British Museum is prepared for legal action should an arrest occur. In the meantime, the art world remains on tenterhooks, as one of its most trusted institutions faces an unsettling scandal that’s left more questions than answers.

Marilyn Walters

Marilyn Walters is a seasoned news journalist with over two years of experience in the field. Known for her investigative reporting and insightful analysis, Marilyn has covered significant global events with an objective lens. Her relentless pursuit of truth and dedication to journalistic integrity have established her as a respected voice in today's dynamic news landscape.

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