The British Museum has fired one of its employees after it became known that items from the museum’s collection – including gold jewelery and gems – were missing, stolen or damaged, the institution said. She added that she would take legal action against the redundant employee, and the London Police were investigating the matter.
Most of the stolen or missing pieces are small items held in storage, including “gold jewellery, semi-precious stone gems and glass dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD,” the British Museum said in a press release on Wednesday. The items had been stored in a warehouse belonging to one of the museum’s collections “mainly for academic and research purposes” and had not been publicly displayed recently, it added.
“Very unusual incident” at the British Museum
The museum also said it would take legal action against the dismissed employee, and the London Metropolitan Police’s Economic and Criminal Crimes Unit is investigating. – This is a very unusual incident. We have already tightened our procedures and are working with external experts to complete a final description of what is missing, damaged and stolen. This will allow us to direct our efforts towards recovering the objects, said British Museum director Hartwig Fischer.
George Osborne, from the British Museum, said the museum was “very concerned” when it became aware of items being lost or stolen earlier this year. As he added, the museum “implemented extraordinary measures to increase security”, “drawn conclusions” from the situation and “used all possible powers” to deal with the person “considered responsible”.
Located in central London, the British Museum is visited by more than six million people every year, making it one of the most visited museums in the world. His collections include items from six continents and spanning a period of two million years, including the Rosetta Stone, the famous relic that enabled the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Main photo source: Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock