London, Aug 26 (EFE).- The British Museum has begun to recover some of the 2,000 pieces that have been allegedly stolen from the institution, its chairman George Osborne said Saturday.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer said “we have already started to recover some of the stolen items”.
The facade of the British Museum in London, Britain, 23 August 2023. EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL
The items, which were not on view but in collections open only to scholars and researchers, disappeared from the museum’s storerooms over a long period of time, Osborne added.
Some of the stolen pieces were spotted on online sale sites as early as 2016, according to local press reports.
The British Museum, one of the country’s most prestigious cultural institutions, has been under heavy pressure after confirming earlier this month that several of its treasures had been “lost, stolen or damaged.”
“We believe we have been the victim of thefts over a long period of time and frankly more could have been done to prevent them,” Osborne, who was appointed chairman of the Museum in June 2021, said.
He added that the museum was working very closely with police and that a “forensic job” was underway to establish exactly what was missing from the vast collection.
German historian Hartwig Fisher and director of the British Museum on Friday announced his resignation with immediate effect following the suspected theft of thousands of items.
In a statement, Fisher said that the institution “had not responded as comprehensively as it should have” to warnings that were issued in 2021 over missing objects in the storage rooms of its London headquarters.
A woman views the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum in London, Britain, 23 August 2023. EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL
Earlier this month, the British Museum, which is home to one of the most important archaeological collections in the world, fired an employee after finding the loss of gold jewelry, semi-precious stones and glass objects dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century.
British media have pointed to archaeologist Peter Higgs, 56, who worked at the institution for three decades as an expert on ancient Greece, as the alleged culprit of the missing objects, although his family has defended his innocence. EFE