British Museum director resigns to lead probe into stolen artefacts

Hartwig Fischer, director of the UK’s leading arts institution for eight years, has resigned with immediate effect. “It is clear that the British Museum has not responded as fully as it should have to the 2021 warnings and the issue that has now fully emerged,” he said in a statement released by the museum.

In late July, Fisher announced his retirement in 2024, and the British Museum said an international search for a new address would begin in August. News of the alleged theft of some 2,000 pieces from the museum’s collection hastened his decision.

Fisher explains that for the past few days he has been going over the details of the robbery and how the investigation was going. He admits that the museum’s response was not good and that he ignored the warnings they received from 2021. “I misjudged a comment I made earlier this week about Dr. Gradel. I want to express my sincere regret and express these remarks,” adds Fisher, referring to his disparaging views of art dealer Itai Gradel, who was the person who caused the alarm.

“The situation facing the museum is extremely difficult,” he adds. “I sincerely believe that he will overcome this moment and become stronger, but unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that my presence is a distraction. That’s the last thing I want,” says Fisher, who says the British Museum is a “wonderful” institution and that leading it has been the “honour” of his life.

The chairman of the board of directors, George Osborne, has accepted his resignation, indicating that Fisher has “been honest about the mistakes he made” and begun to search for a new direction. Osborne claims they will “fix what went wrong” and learn “lessons” from this “turbulent period”.

In August, it became known that an investigation was underway into the disappearance of several items, including precious stones and jewelry. On August 16, the British Museum announced an investigation, alongside a police investigation, to find out which items were missing from the collection. He also reported on the dismissal of the employee and the initiation of legal proceedings against him.

For its part, London Metropolitan Police, whose Economic Crime Command is leading the investigation, announced on Thursday that it was investigating a suspect they had questioned, but no arrests had been made.

According to the art institution, most of the mentioned objects were stored in a warehouse belonging to one of the museum’s collections. These include gold jewelry and semi-precious stone gems and glass dating back to the 1st century BC. year From the 15th century AD.

Source: El Diario

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