British Museum Sues Former Curator Peter Higgs, Accuses Him of Theft of Hundreds of Artifacts, Including Jewelry, Gems and Precious Metals

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Written By Maya Cantina

A London civil court today (26) ordered former curator at the British Museum Peter Higgs, accused of stealing hundreds – or maybe thousands – of artifacts, to provide the museum with a list the items he is suspected of taking, and to return those still in his possession.

I write about him here in TGP back in August 2023. Higgs was a PHD curator of Greek collections at the British Museum, and also tracked down looted artifacts and returning them to their home countries.

Back then, the Daily Mail reported:

“The British Museum worker sacked after being accused of stealing priceless treasures was today revealed to be a ‘world expert’ on ancient Greece who had worked there for more than three decades.

Peter John Higgs, 56, was fired this summer over jewelry, gems and precious metals spanning more than three millennia of history that vanished from the museum’s vaults over a number of years.”

Higgs has not been arrested by police, but was dismissed from the Museum after items were found to be ‘missing, stolen or damaged’.

Met Police has not revealed what was stolen. But high profile thefts in the Museum include a £750,000 Cartier diamond ring, missing since 2011.

Higgs is currently under Met police investigation, but so far he has not been charged.

Meanwhile, the British Museum has brought a civil lawsuit against him.

When the British Museum, one of the most visited in the world, reported in August that hundreds of items had been stolen from its collection or were missing, the internal organizational failings led to the resignation of Museum director Hartwig Fischer.

Reuters reported:

“The British Museum, which holds treasures such as the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon marbles, has said the stolen items included gold rings, earrings and other pieces of jewelry dating back to ancient Greek and Roman periods.

The museum’s lawyer Daniel Burgess said in court documents: ‘While the full extent of the thefts is unknown, it is presently believed that over 1,800 items were stolen or damaged and that many hundreds of them were sold or offered for sale by (Higgs)’.

Burgess added that Higgs tried to ‘cover his tracks by, among other things, using false names, creating false documents and manipulating records held on the Museum’s IT systems’.”

The museum says that, so far, it has recovered 356 of the missing items , and it hopes to get more back.

“’The items that have been stolen from the museum are of cultural and historical significance’, museum lawyer Daniel Burgess said in written legal arguments.”

[…] Chairman of trustees George Osborne has acknowledged that the reputation of the 265-year-old institution has been damaged by the episode.”

Read more:

Those Elegant Art Thieves: In the US and the UK, the Fate of Two Sophisticated Academics Show a Different Face of Criminality


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