BBC: Dozens of Artifacts Stolen From British Commonwealth Museum

Tuesday, 11 Dec 2012 04:58 AM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Dozens of priceless artifacts lent to England’s British Empire Commonwealth Museum are missing and some appear to have been sold, a BBC investigation claims.

According to the BBC’s Inside Out West news show, 144 precious objects from Britain’s colonial past, which were lent to the museum by eight collectors, are gone.

And one British lord was horrified to learn that a 19th-century maritime oil painting of an East India Company ship by Thomas Butterworth — art his late father had lent the museum — was auctioned off four years ago for $98,500.

"I decided I would like the picture back. It turned out the museum had sold the picture through Christie's,’’ Lord Caldecote told London’s Guardian newspaper.

“It was a shock when I found out the painting had gone.’’

The museum, located in Bristol, has since been closed and police are investigating the whereabouts of the missing objects.

There has been no suggestion anybody at the museum personally profited from any objects being sold.


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