British Museum recovers some of 2,000 stolen items – Capital Radio Malawi
18 June, 2024

British Museum recovers some of 2,000 stolen items

About 2,000 items are thought to have been stolen from the British Museum, but some of the missing treasures have started to be recovered, chairman George Osborne has confirmed.

The ex-chancellor accepted the museum’s reputation has suffered but said “it is a mess we are going to clear up”.

He told the BBC “more could have been done” after theft concerns were first raised in February 2021.

A staff member the museum suspects of involvement has been sacked.

And it was announced on Friday that Hartwig Fischer, the museum’s director, will step down after accepting a 2021 investigation was mishandled.

The museum, one of the UK’s most prestigious cultural institutions, has been under pressure since revealing earlier this month that a number of treasures were reported “missing, stolen or damaged”.

The items involved dated from the 15th Century BC to the 19th Century AD and had been kept primarily for academic and research purposes, the museum previously said.

Osborne – who was appointed as chair of the museum in June 2021 – told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “we have already started to recover some of the stolen items”.

“We believe we have been the victim of thefts over a long period of time and frankly more could have been done to prevent them,” he said.

Asked where the missing items were located, he said “some members of the antiquarian community are actively cooperating with us” and that recoveries so far were a “silver lining to a dark cloud”.

He said he was confident that “honest people” will return items found to have been stolen, but acknowledged that “others may not”.

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