British Museum in London asks public to spot stolen items by going to new webpage

260923 BRITISH MUSEUM ITEM MISSING (c) British Museum
One of the items listed on the website Credit: British Museum

The British Museum is asking the public to go to its new webpage so they can help recover missing items from the institution’s collection. An estimated 2,000 artefacts – including gold jewellery, semi-precious stones and glass – were found to have been taken from the London-based institution over a “significant” period of time. However, when the British Museum disclosed on August 16 that items from its collection were found to be missing, stolen or damaged, it did not share images of the items. On Tuesday, it shared pictures of gems and jewellery that could lead to the absent items, some of which are from the Department of Greece and Rome, being found by people who have them in their possession.

People are asked to check a special website to help track down missing items Credit: British Museum

The British Museum also confirmed in a statement that “60 items have now been returned, with a further 300 identified and due to be returned imminently”. In the wake of the items going missing, museum director Hartwig Fischer resigned and his deputy, Jonathan Williams, stepped back from his position at the same time on August 25. German art historian Mr Fischer was replaced by former Victoria And Albert (V&A) Museum director Sir Mark Jones. Former chancellor George Osborne, who is now chairman of the museum’s trustees, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last month that an estimate 2,000 items were missing and some had been recovered.

However, he said the museum did not have a complete catalogue of everything in its collection amassed over several hundred years. “Someone with knowledge of what’s not registered has a big advantage in removing some of those items,” he said. It is understood by the PA news agency that the artefacts were taken before 2023 and over a “significant” period of time. An unnamed member of staff has been sacked and the British Museum is taking legal action. A Metropolitan Police investigation is under way and a man was interviewed under caution on August 23. The images of missing items can be found here.

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