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British Museum Staffer Busted for Theft


Al Kowsky

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ARTnews has reported that Peter Higgs, a 30 year employee for the British Museum, was caught with his hand in the cookie jar & has been fired 😦. It has been alleged that Higgs was stealing museum artifacts & selling them on eBay

PeterHiggsBM.jpg.bd63363435f4abd14aea32349db3b09d.jpg

https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/british-museum-staffer-fired-stolen-items-veteran-curator-peter-higgs-1234677248/

 

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2 hours ago, Heliodromus said:

Dumb as a rock apparently - sold the stuff on eBay using a PayPal account linked to his Twitter account under his real name !

 

Sometimes greed can overwhelm honesty & common sense 😏....

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3 hours ago, John Conduitt said:

Not very bright thinking he could get away with it for so long. At least he didn't try and eBay the Elgin Marbles.

He may not have tried hustling the Elgin Marbles but he looks uncomfortably attached to that female sculpture 🤣.

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1 hour ago, Heliodromus said:

I made a handy identification guide

image.png.6661bd530f4a3acb323b169a1230cd7d.png

I think this comparison understates a bit just how high up this guy was at the British Museum -- he was a "prominent curator" and "the museum’s head of department for Greece and Rome." Even if the thefts were petty, it's a pretty big deal that he was the one who carried them out. If this were fiction, I'd assume that he had gambling debts or other serious monetary difficulties. But in real life, who knows?

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Yes - he certainly had a lot to lose in terms of reputation, and to do this repeatedly does seem totally reckless, as well as being horrendously antisocial. Did he need the money for some reason, or was it just the thrill/stupidity ?

 

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7 hours ago, DonnaML said:

I think this comparison understates a bit just how high up this guy was at the British Museum -- he was a "prominent curator" and "the museum’s head of department for Greece and Rome." Even if the thefts were petty, it's a pretty big deal that he was the one who carried them out. If this were fiction, I'd assume that he had gambling debts or other serious monetary difficulties. But in real life, who knows?

'Petty' is in the eye of the beholder, or eBayer, as the case may be: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/08/17/stolen-british-museum-items-worth-50000-offered-ebay-40/

In a completely coincidental and unrelated story <ahem>, the director of the British Museum announced in July that he will "pass on the leadership" of the museum next year. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/08/18/staff-allege-british-museum-director-resigned-over-thefts/ 

Edited by DLTcoins
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Great to read!

jj-laughing.gif.d1fd087ffd24f5b48ab50d363185263a.gif

There is NOTHING wrong with stealing from the British Museum... so long as you don't get caught. This is the culture they have bred. 

They've been stealing from the world for years and laughing and lying about it. May Beard tells some wonderfully sad stories about it in "The Parthenon ".

Screenshot_20230325_080813_Google.jpg.6c628949ac17657ada75e22a0af60f99.jpg.3b735f2f2d8f467648b6255400a8333b.jpgScreenshot_20230325_080829_Google.jpg.617ff17299fafc422bae20d684b613a6.jpg.5878b6a5a6f09b64e70f51ccc88644a3.jpgsfy4j9555rf61.jpg.3414a86f271bf685a06bf93d00911ab2.jpg.d79a5cd91ed2f0b11a0a6964b2555865.jpgmerlin_176229870_437b6d92-53df-4e88-bf4a-0b41a0c8e592-superJumbo.jpg.defaf4250ea062de611073c2176b0550.jpg.ad016a58682e912c51ee850aac9b98cf.jpg

 

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13 minutes ago, Sol_Invictus said:

I guess EBay seller associated with this was Sultan1966

Yes, and this was noted as being Peter Higgs Twitter handle (still is - Twitter account still there).

I'm not sure the origin of the "Sultan1966" reference though, since a Google search shows up multiple instance of that user name on various sites, as well as a movie reference:

https://forums.auran.com/members/sultan1966.1053280/

https://www.rvforum.net/members/sultan1966.109804/about

https://theojewelry.com/product/zayed-bin-sultan-1966/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420890/fullcredits

Hopefully they have better evidence that the culprit was Higgs than just this user name.

 

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It has been 30 years since I viewed them in person, but my impression is that the caryatid in the British Museum is in much better condition than the remaining ones in Greece.   A couple of centuries more of exposure to the elements, and Athens’ terrible 20th century air pollution, has severely impaired the caryatids who were left in situ until they were moved to the Acropolis Museum.  Or perhaps Lord Elgin just bought the best one.   

If the difference in quality is due to environmental deterioration, I would say the Brits are due thanks for absconding with the marbles they did take.   The upside of cultural imperialism, I suppose.  

My thoughts on cultural patrimony and repatriation have been expressed elsewhere.  

 

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On 8/21/2023 at 5:22 PM, Heliodromus said:

Yes - he certainly had a lot to lose in terms of reputation, and to do this repeatedly does seem totally reckless, as well as being horrendously antisocial. Did he need the money for some reason, or was it just the thrill/stupidity ?

 

Port wine has gotten very expensive in Britain 🍷🍾😉.

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On 8/26/2023 at 6:06 PM, Hrefn said:

 

If the difference in quality is due to environmental deterioration, I would say the Brits are due thanks for absconding with the marbles they did take.   The upside of cultural imperialism, I suppose.  

Hmmm  not sure the Brits are due thanks, given that the Museum damaged them in the 1930s....

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/1999/nov/12/helenasmith

Edited by Tetradogma
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Growing up in England I was always told that Elgin took the best of whatever he could get "permission" from the local Turkish rulers to take. And he did lose more than a few pieces on the way.

If you are interested in the actual history of the British Museum's "acquisition" of the marbles, I heartedly recommend starting by reading the "Report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Earl of Elgin's collection of sculptured marbles" that was published in 1816 (link below). This government summary is an exemplary piece of political whitewash. Elgin didn't even have a receipt! But that was OK because the government wanted the sculptures for the British Museum. 😉

https://archive.org/details/gri_33125008272383/mode/2up?view=theater

Enjoy,

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  • 1 month later...

This story goes from bad to worse.

While looking through their incredibly limited  number of eastern Med coins they have  managed to image (you can easily see the ratio of images to total by filtering on their collections page)  I came across their  "whoops we lost a bunch of stuff"  mea culpa page which is here.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/our-work/departments/recovery-missing-items

I thought  it was  a  joke or at best incomplete as  it has so little  information  on it. For example  its extensive list of  missing jewelry etc is  described, and this is the FULL detail as

"Gold rings, ear-rings and other pieces of jewellery
These date from across antiquity, especially from the Late Bronze Age (about 15th to 11th century BC) and the Hellenistic and Roman periods."

 

So if you come across any gold rings be sure to  let the British Museum know. Then CoinsWeek just produced an article on it and strongly implies or at least infers from other reports that the reason it is doing this is  not the weak excuse shown on the link here,  but simply - as  many suspected - that the BM has no blooming idea of most of what is  missing and  is  just  going through the motions.  Awful. I'm a member of the BM, visit regularly, use their free services on item id, regularly refer  to their catalogues etc, and like  much of what they do so am maybe  being too prickly in response the stream of recent lectures from British museums that they not we should be the sole  repository of the past.

 This whole saga,  capped off with the so-called "description of missing  items" lowers my  opinion of them quite a bit though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If the person responsible for recording the objects was also the person who was stealing them, then perhaps it’s not the museum’s fault for not having records of the items. Instead their fault is in trusting the wrong person, and in not keeping a sufficiently close eye on their staff.

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I recently contacted the BM coin dept inquiring after a unique-for-issue coin they acquired from the famous Bourton-on-the-Water hoard in 1972. I only knew about the coin from a hoard report - no mention of it on the BM site, which is why I asked for confirmation (& hopefully a photo).

I got a polite, but ultimately useless reply, that yes they (think?) they have the coin, and here's the online link to it.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/C_1972-0627-1

No photo, no mention of reverse type, bust type, legends, issue, provenance ... Just a 5.000g Constantine coin from Lyons acquired in 1972.

Maybe asking too much for them to have already cataloged a unique coin they held back from a hoard only 50 years ago!

Who knows, maybe it's been stolen and will appear on eBay shortly. I guess sans photo anything not weighing 5.000g is fair game. 😃

 

Edited by Heliodromus
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