British Museum Director resigns after antiques found stolen from storeroom

British Museum Director resigns after antiques found stolen from storeroom


The director of the British Museum in London, Hartwig Fischer resigned from his post after admitting to failing in his investigation into the theft of items from the museum’s collection, Aljazeera reported on Saturday.

The museum was alerted more than two years ago to the possible theft or disappearance of valuable artefacts when an art historian became suspicious about objects for sale online.

The publication reported that the museum, one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, informed last week that a member of staff had been dismissed after items including gold jewellery and gems dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD, had been found stolen from a storeroom.

The German art historian and the museum Director, who led the museum since 2016, said that there could have been a better response to the warnings that an employee may have been stealing items and the failings “must ultimately” rest with him.

 “It is evident that the British Museum did not respond as comprehensively as it should have,” he said in a statement.

“The responsibility for that failure must ultimately rest with the director.”

Aljazeera reported that the police had interviewed but not charged an unnamed man in the case.

The British Museum initially said in the statement that Fischer would step down “with immediate effect”, but later removed those words and said he would resign once an interim leader had been found.

Fischer said that he withdrew remarks made about the art dealer who first alerted the museum’s authorities to the stolen items. He claimed earlier this week that Ittai Gradel, an antiquities dealer, withheld information about the scale of the stolen items when he contacted the museum.

Fischer expressed “sincere regret” over the “misjudged” comments.

The museum has also attracted controversy because it has resisted calls from communities around the world to return items of historical significance that were acquired or stolen during the era of the British Empire and Britain’s colonial rule.

The most infamous of these disputes include marble carvings from the Parthenon in Greece and the Benin bronzes from West Africa.


(This news report is published from a syndicated feed. Except for the headline, the content has not been written or edited by OpIndia staff)



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