Please return if found: British Museum seeks help to recover missing treasures

LONDON (Reuters) – The British Museum launched a public hotline on Tuesday asking for help to locate some 2,000 missing artefacts, revealing they were mostly ancient Greek and Roman gems and jewellery.

The museum said last month it had sacked a staff member over stolen, missing or damaged items in a crisis that highlighted internal failings and led to its director quitting days later.

Home to treasures such as the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon marbles, the British Museum houses one of the world’s most visited collections and has since tightened its security.

Sixty items had now been returned, with a further 300 identified and due to be handed back imminently, the museum said in a statement.

“If you are concerned that you may be, or have been, in possession of items from the British Museum, or if you have any other information that may help us, please contact us,” said a page on its website advertising a dedicated email address.

The page said it was only disclosing the types of artefacts stolen and heeding expert advice not to share full details.

It said the stolen items included gold rings, ear-rings and other pieces of jewellery dating back to ancient Greek and Roman periods as well as small objects such as gems that were often set in rings.

The museum, which is facing demands from several governments for the repatriation of historical treasures to their home countries, said it was working with London’s police, “actively monitoring” the art market, and had registered the missing items on the Art Loss Register database.

The museum is also consulting an international panel of experts.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; editing by William James)