In what seems to be a real-life Indiana Jones storyline, artifacts have reportedly been stolen from the British Museum — allegedly by one of the museum's own employees.
According to BBC News and the Guardian, among the estimated 2,000 stolen items were gold coins, silver necklaces, gold jewelry, gems of semiprecious stones, as well as hundreds of pieces of pottery. An expert allegedly told the BBC that the sheer number of stolen objects was "mind-blowing."
Of the artifacts stolen, the newest date from the 19th century, while the oldest date back to the 15th century B.C. Yes, you read that correctly.
The theft was allegedly found out when a Freedom of Information Act request was filed, revealing that "one Greek silver coin, a 4th-century Roman coin, and a German coin had disappeared from the museum."
The worst part? The thief has reportedly been selling the artifacts on eBay.
The British Museum theft relates to broader problems in antiquities marketIllegal sale of antiquities are rampant. From unreported metal detecting finds to looted finds without provenance on international markets. Scholars who authenticate/publish such materials are complicit https://t.co/WhDY5yr1a6
— Flint Dibble 🍖🏺 (@FlintDibble) August 28, 2023
According to the BBC, the British Museum was allegedly first notified in 2021 by antiquities dealer Ittai Gradel that he had seen antiquities held by the museum listed on the site. The museum's deputy director reportedly waited five months to reply to Dr. Gradel, then told him that there was "no suggestion of any wrongdoing."
Upon hearing the news, many on social media were quick to call the museum hypocritical because the British Museum is arguably famous for housing many of the world’s greatest treasures from countries who’d like their stuff back.
— James Felton (@JimMFelton) August 16, 2023
— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) August 16, 2023
The British museum is suing someone for stealing some of the stuff they stole from half the countries in the world.Feeling: lmao
— Votre interlocuteur est décédé. (@BouhBouhBulle) September 7, 2023
— Katherine (@ksb78) August 16, 2023