The variety of gadgets allegedly taken from the British Museum’s assortment by the senior curator Peter Higgs is believed to whole greater than 1,500 separate artefacts, in keeping with an inner investigation performed by the museum and reportedly seen by The Day by day Telegraph.
Higgs, the museum’s curator of Greek collections, Greek sculpture and the Hellenistic interval, was final week named by The Day by day Telegraph and The Occasions newspapers because the prime suspect behind the disappearance of a bunch of artefacts held within the museum’s assortment, lots of which he’s alleged to have offered on eBay, usually for a tiny percentile of their estimated worth. One Roman object, courting again greater than two millennia and valued at as much as £50,000, was allegedly offered for £40 on the e-commerce website.
Higgs is alleged to have eliminated gadgets from the gathering, with out detection and for a few years, with artefacts from the gathering showing on eBay way back to 2016. The entire variety of artefacts allegedly taken by Higgs is regarded as “nearer to 2,000”, a supply instructed The Day by day Telegraph.
Higgs was dismissed earlier this 12 months and has not as but been arrested, though the Metropolitan police have confirmed they’re investigating. Higgs’s household has denied the allegations in opposition to him.
The sheer variety of artefacts taken from the museum’s assortment will heap additional stress on a beleaguered senior management group, together with Hartwig Fischer, the museum’s outgoing director.
Talking to The Economist newspaper, Christos Tsirogiannis, a Unesco-affiliated antiquities trafficking professional, who heads the Working Group Illicit Antiquities Trafficking of the Unesco Chair on Threats to Cultural Heritage, says the British Museum theft is “most likely the worst case to date…Nobody expects that to occur in a museum.”
The online worth of the artefacts allegedly stolen by Higgs is regarded as within the tens of hundreds of thousands of kilos, with some courting again 3,500 years.
Higgs, who operated beneath a pseudonym on eBay, was recognized after a person discovered his Paypal account linked to his Twitter feed, on which he had written each his actual title and his job title on the museum. He was traced when allegedly making an attempt to promote gadgets from the gathering that had been correctly catalogued, that means they had been traceable within the stock.
Higgs was quoted in a Sunday Occasions investigation into the British Museum in 2002, throughout which a reporter for the paper gained an apprenticeship on the museum to be able to expose the lax safety beneath which the gathering is held. Referring to the archives, Higgs instructed the paper: “It’s chaos down there.”
Previous to this story rising, the British Museum had been on the centre of a collection of restitution debates over contested artefacts, most notably the Parthenon Marbles, the Benin Bronzes and the Ethiopian Tabots. Again and again, its management has defended its assortment in opposition to such restitution claims by arguing that the museum is able to conserving and defending artefacts uniquely properly.
On the museum’s web site, beneath a web page titled ‘Governance’, it states: “The Museum’s purpose is to carry a set consultant of world cultures and to make sure that the gathering is housed in security, conserved, curated, researched and exhibited.”
A spokesperson for the British Museum instructed The Artwork Newspaper: “We cannot be commenting on any particulars of the thefts whereas they’re topic to a police investigation.”