September 22, 2023


How Art Works

British Museum Was Warned of Popularity-Damaging Thefts in 2021

2 min read

Officers at London’s British Museum had been in 2021 alerted by an outdoor supply that somebody inside the establishment was stealing priceless artifacts and promoting them on eBay, in accordance with a number of sources. Artwork historian Ittai Gradel, an professional in Greco-Roman engraved gems, contacted deputy director Jonathan Williams through e mail in February 2021 after turning into suspicious of the provenance of a Roman cameo supplied on the e-commerce website. Gradel fingered veteran curator Peter Higgs because the thief, providing detailed proof in opposition to him and suggesting that if he weren’t the perpetrator, one other museum worker was impersonating him. Williams promised to research the matter however then dropped communication. Gradel wrote once more months later, and this time despatched a duplicate of his unique e mail to British Museum director Hartwig Fischer. Williams in July wrote to Gradel to substantiate that “the objects involved are all accounted for,” additional assuring him that “procedures are strong and that the gathering is protected.”

The matter seemingly rested there, till this previous July, when Higgs was fired following the invention that quite a few invaluable objects had gone lacking from the London establishment’s storeroom starting in 2016. The suspected thief is among the world’s prime authorities on historical Greek and Mediterranean artifacts and was a member of the British Museum’s “Monuments Males” group; he had been with the establishment for greater than three a long time. Additionally in July, it was introduced that Hartwig Fischer, who had since 2016 served as director of the museum, would depart in 2024. Hypothesis has swirled that Fischer’s departure is tied to the mishandled theft allegations. The British Museum has firmly denied that that is the case.

Along with the supposed lack of the jewels, the museum should now deal with the lack of its popularity as a safe repository of among the world’s most treasured treasures, together with the hotly contested Parthenon marbles, which Greece would very very like to have again.

“These are priceless objects that belong to the nation, and they need to be protected,” Minister of Parliament Ben Bradshaw, England’s former tradition secretary, advised BBC News. “The Tradition division will probably be desirous to guarantee itself from the board of trustees and [British Museum chair] George Osborne, that it has the governance in place to guard this stuff now and sooner or later, to forestall something like this ever occurring once more.”


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