Chairman of the Trustees George Osborne estimated that 2,000 artifacts had vanished from the British Museum while acknowledging that the collection lacked a comprehensive catalog.

British Museum Reveals 2,000 Missing Artefacts After Police Called In

The lost goods were described as “small items of jewellery, gems, and bits of gold that were not on public display” by the UK’s former chancellor.

He told BBC radio that it was still unclear how many items had gone missing.

“I will give you an estimate of around 2,000. But I have to say that’s a very provisional figure,” Osborne stated.

“We have started to recover some of the stolen items, which is a silver lining to a dark cloud.”

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On Friday, museum director Hartwig Fischer resigned, confessing that the institution did not respond “as it should have” in response to concerns that items had gone missing.

The Central London Museum announced last week that it had fired a staff member and notified the police after artifacts were discovered to be “missing, stolen, or damaged.”

The museum, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the British capital, is best known for containing exhibits such as the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Marbles.

Osborne blamed management’s inability to act on warnings on “groupthink,” saying they “just couldn’t believe an insider was stealing things, couldn’t believe one of the members of staff was doing this.”

“We believe we’ve been the victim of thefts over a long period of time and, frankly, more could have been done to prevent them,” he said, adding that security at the museum had been tightened up.

He stated that the antiquarian community was working with the museum to help return some of the lost items.

On Thursday, the Metropolitan Police stated that a man had been interviewed in connection with the thefts.

The force stated that no arrests had been made and that it would continue to cooperate “closely” with the British Museum while investigations proceeded.

British Museum Reveals 2,000 Missing Artefacts After Police Called In

Fischer, a German art historian, announced his resignation with immediate effect due to procedural flaws that permitted the pieces to be seized.

“It is evident that the British Museum did not respond as comprehensively as it should have in response to the warnings in 2021, and to the problem that has now fully emerged,” he concluded.