The British Museum announced on Wednesday that it had fired an employee on suspicion of looting jewels from storage, and had begun a review of its security practices.
The unnamed worker stole or damaged items including gold jewelry and “semi-precious stones and glass” dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD, the museum he said in a press release.
London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement it was conducting an investigation, but there had been no arrests and its “investigations are continuing”.
A spokeswoman for the museum said in a telephone interview that due to the police investigation, the museum would not comment on the value of the missing items or provide any other details about them. The museum said the majority of the items were small pieces kept in storage. None of them have been on public display recently, the museum said, adding that they are “maintained primarily for academic and research purposes.”
George Osborne, the museum’s president, said in the press release that the museum is now working to recover the items and will do “whatever it takes, investing in safety records and collections, to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Osborne said: “It is a sad day for all who love our British Museum, but we are determined to right wrongs and use the experience to build a stronger museum.”
The thefts are far from the first in a London institution. In 2017, the museum announced that six years earlier He lost his Cartier diamond ring It is worth nearly a million dollars. In 2004, 15 pieces of Chinese jewelry It was stolen during business hourswhile in 2002 A.J A 2,500-year-old Greek marble head was taken from above base.
Several other European museums have been robbed recently. Last year, thieves stole a cache of nearly 500 ancient gold coins from the Celtic and Roman Museum in Manching, Bavaria. In 2019, a robbery at Dresden’s Green Vault museum led to the disappearance of jewelry worth €100 million, equivalent to $108 million. In May, five men were convicted for their part in that robbery, and much of the jewels were recovered.
Said Christopher A. Marinello, a lawyer who works to recover stolen artwork, said in a phone interview that thefts from museums were a “huge problem” around the world and employees were often involved. However, he added, “For this to happen in the British Museum is deeply embarrassing and disturbing.”
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