NewsBritish Museum sues ex-curator over missing 1,800 artifacts

British Museum sues ex‑curator over missing 1,800 artifacts

Scandal at British Museum. Priceless artifacts sold online.
Scandal at British Museum. Priceless artifacts sold online.
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons | Ham
1:35 PM EDT, March 27, 2024

The British Museum has initiated legal proceedings against Peter Higgs, a former employee, in light of a controversy that emerged in August of the previous year, surrounding the disappearance or damage of 1,800 artifacts from the museum.

Higgs, previously a curator with expertise in ancient Greek art, is accused of either stealing or damaging at least 1,800 items from the collection, including ancient coins, jewelry, and gems. His employment was terminated in July 2023 when the issue was brought to attention.

On Tuesday, Judge Heather Williams ordered Higgs to provide comprehensive information regarding the missing items. She also required him to release his account details on eBay and PayPal, which the museum alleges he used to sell the stolen antiquities online.

Higgs denies the accusations

Daniel Burgess, representing the British Museum, stated that they possess evidence of Higgs selling museum items illicitly for over a decade. He allegedly sold these to at least 45 buyers globally, using false identities, forging documents, and tampering with museum records to conceal his actions.

To date, the museum has managed to reclaim 356 artifacts; however, the police are still investigating the matter, and no formal charges have been pressed against Higgs as of yet.

Higgs, a staff member of the British Museum for more than twenty years and the head of the ancient Greek and Roman art department since 2021, has denied all allegations and plans to contest the museum's claims. He was unable to attend the hearing on Tuesday due to health concerns.

The British Museum, one of the world's most prestigious and frequented cultural institutions, faced a significant setback following the disclosure of the artifact disappearance last August, leading to the resignation of its director, Hartwig Fischer.

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