British Museum Sues Former Curator for Return of Stolen Items

A judge has ordered a former curator who the British Museum says stole hundreds of artifacts to return any gems or jewelry from the institution that are in his possession.

The museum claims that the former curator, Peter Higgs, who once ran the museum’s Greek and Roman antiquities department, stole or damaged over 1,800 artifacts from its collections and sold hundreds of those items on eBay, according to court documents.

Officials also want Mr. Higgs to explain the whereabouts of other artifacts that they says the former curator sold online. The court documents state that Mr. Higgs disputes the accusations against him.

At a High Court hearing in London, the presiding judge, Heather Williams, ordered Mr. Higgs to return any items within four weeks. Judge Williams also ordered PayPal, the online payments company, to disclose data relating to Mr. Higgs’s eBay accounts, including his transaction history.

The missing museum items include engraved gems and jewelry, some of which are thousands of years old.

On Tuesday, Mr. Higgs and his family did not respond to emails and social media messages from The Times. In court papers, the museum’s lawyers said the curator was “suffering from severe mental strain” and was “unable to respond effectively to the proceedings.”

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