Stolen Jewelry Worth Up to $65K Popped Up on eBay for $50

Onyx piece taken from British Museum was listed on auction site in 2016; ex-curator is main suspect
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2023 11:13 AM CDT
Stolen Jewelry Worth Up to $65K Popped Up on eBay for $50
Visitors walk outside the British Museum in London on June 26, 2015.   (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File)

Jewelry stolen over time from the British Museum—allegedly by a former staffer who'd worked there for decades—have been popping on eBay, with the person hawking the pieces trying to dump them for a tiny fraction of their value, reports the Telegraph. The precious items missing from the London museum have been spotted on eBay since 2016, including one piece that year listed with a minimum ask of $50. What that Roman-era item crafted from onyx is actually worth: somewhere between $30,000 and $65,000.

That particular auction didn't appear to have had any takers, and the Art Newspaper notes that the seller, "Sultan1966," didn't seem to have taken part in any other sales. "Our dedicated law enforcement liaison team is in close contact with the Metropolitan Police and is supporting the investigation into this case," an eBay rep says, adding that "eBay does not tolerate the sale of stolen property." The company says it will take down any item being auctioned if it's determined to be stolen.

In a Wednesday statement, the British Museum noted that "the majority of the items in question were small pieces kept in a storeroom belonging to one of the Museum's collections." The items included gold jewelry "and gems of semiprecious stones and glass dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD," per the statement. The main suspect in the case is 56-year-old Peter John Higgs, a senior curator who'd worked for the museum since 1993, and whose son said he was fired this summer over the thefts, per the Evening Standard. Greg Higgs tells the London Times that his father is innocent: "He's devastated about it, because it's his life's work." (More British Museum stories.)

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