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British Museum Takes Legal Action Against Former Curator Over Artifact Theft

Wednesday, March 27, 2024 • Tamil Comments
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The British Museum is suing a former curator for stealing thousands of items from its collection to sell over the Internet on auction sites.

Peter Higgs was laid off in July 2023 after more than 1,800 historical items went missing. Authorities accuse the man of exploiting his trusted position to pilfer valuable gems and gold jewellery from ancient relics over the last decade.

High Court Judge Heather Williams directed Hjson to either return or make full disclosure of the whereabouts of the items within four weeks of the order and reveal his eBay and PayPal transactions.

While the museum has recovered 356 of the stolen artifacts, officials with the museum and its insurer said they hope to recover more after cultural and historical significance have been weighed in the balance, according to museum attorney Daniel Burgess.

Burgess went ahead to blame Higgs for his attempts to cover himself through the use of an alias and forgery of documents, whereby he was offering the artifacts, recording them at a low value, and compromising the records of the museum.

Higgs, an over-20-year veteran in the museum's Department of Greece and Rome, denied the accusations and swore to make counter-accusations to those of the museum in court. He was ill and, therefore, did not appear in the court hearing.

That is also parallel to the criminal police investigation, but Higgs has not been charged with any crime. The revelation of the loss of artifacts had prompted the resignation of the museum director, Hartwig Fischer, who said that he regretted not taking the warning seriously earlier that the artifacts were being sold on eBay.

Recognizing the ill repute that the 265-year-old institution earned, chairman of the trustees George Osborne expressed his pain for the damage. The British Museum is a popular site for tourists, as six million people visit per year to check out the great number of its exhibits, from Egyptian mummies to masks of Indigenous Canadians.

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