LONDON (AP) — The British Museum went to court Tuesday against a former curator alleged to have stolen hundreds of artifacts from its collections and offered them for sale online.


The museum is suing Peter Higgs, who was fired in July 2023 after more than 1,800 items were discovered to be missing. Lawyers for the museum say Higgs “abused his position of trust” to steal ancient gems, gold jewelry and other pieces from storerooms over the course of a decade.

Britain British Museum

Visitors walk outside the British Museum in Bloomsbury, London, Friday, June 26, 2015. The British Museum is suing a former curator alleged to have stolen almost 2,000 artifacts from its collections and offered them for sale online. Peter Higgs was fired in July 2023 after more than 1,800 items were discovered to be missing.  ( AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

High Court judge Heather Williams ordered Higgs to list or return any items in his possession within four weeks. She also ordered the disclosure of his eBay and PayPal records.

The museum says it has recovered 356 of the missing items so far, and 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.

Burgess said the defendant tried to “cover his tracks” by using fake names, creating false documents, manipulating the museum’s records and selling artifacts at less than their value.

Higgs, who worked in the museum’s Greece and Rome department for more than two decades, denies the allegations and intends to dispute the museum’s legal claim.

He did not attend Tuesday’s hearing due to poor health, lawyers said.

A separate police investigation into the case is ongoing, and Higgs has not been charged with a crime.

Museum director Hartwig Fischer resigned after the loss of the items was revealed in August, apologizing for failing to take seriously enough a warning from an art historian that artifacts from its collection were being sold on eBay.


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

The 18th-century museum in central London’s Bloomsbury district is one of Britain’s biggest tourist attractions, visited by 6 million people a year. They come to see a collection that ranges from Egyptian mummies and ancient Greek statues to Viking hoards, scrolls bearing 12th-century Chinese poetry and masks created by the Indigenous peoples of Canada.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Haitian authorities arrest ex-mayor in connection with President Moïse's 2021 killing

Authorities in Haiti on Monday arrested a new suspect in the July…

Veteran police officer, 61, retires to focus on frisky online modeling career

A 61-year-old Canadian woman, who ditched her job in law enforcement to…

Families of Israeli hostages march towards Jerusalem demanding action from government

Tens of thousands of Israeli supporters marched from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem…

South Korea, Japan scramble jets after China, Russia warplanes spotted entering Seoul's defense zone

South Korea and Japan scrambled fighter jets on Thursday after Chinese and…