Police interview man over alleged thefts of artefacts at British Museum

UK

A man has been interviewed by the Metropolitan Police following alleged thefts at the British Museum.

The force has confirmed no arrests have been made.

The museum had earlier sacked a senior curator after close to 2,000 artefacts worth millions of pounds were believed to have been stolen.

The Met Police said in a statement today: “We have worked closely with the British Museum and will continue to do so.

“We will not be providing any further information at this time.”

The museum said last week that items from its collection were “missing, stolen or damaged”.

The museum did not specify how many items were stolen or detail what the missing items were, saying only that they were “small pieces” including “gold jewellery and gems of semi-precious stones and glass dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD”.

The majority were “kept in a storeroom belonging to one of the museum’s collections” and mainly used for academic and research work. None had recently been on public display.

The number of the stolen items is now believed to be “well over 1,000” and “closer to 2,000”, with a value running into “millions of pounds”, the Daily Telegraph reports.

It also appears “increasingly likely” the museum might never know exactly what has been stolen because of “gaps in its inventory,” the paper said.

Read more:
British Museum was warned about thefts years ago
Stolen artefacts offered for sale on eBay

It has emerged an antiquities expert told museum officials three years ago that artefacts from its collection were put on sale on eBay.

One Roman object, valued at £25,000 to £50,000 by dealers, was offered for just £40.

A museum source told the Telegraph that the directorate’s handling of the case has been “negligent and incompetent”.

An independent review of security has been launched.

The review will be led by former museum trustee Sir Nigel Boardman, and Lucy D’Orsi, chief constable of the British Transport Police, who will “kickstart” a “vigorous” programme to recover the stolen items.

Meanwhile, Nigerian and Greek officials have demanded the return of treasures from the museum.

More than 900 Benin Bronze pieces and the Parthenon Marbles – also known as the Elgin Marbles – are now the centre of renewed calls for repatriation amid accusations the British Museum’s security cannot be trusted.

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