In what is surely one of the greatest displays of karma in human history, the British Museum was the victim of a series of thefts that saw gemstones stolen from its archives and sold online. To add insult to injury, someone contacted the Museum in 2021 warning them about the stolen goods, but they were ignored.
A Danish gem dealer, Ittai Gradel, contacted the Museum two years ago with evidence that three gems from the museum’s collection had been listed for sale on eBay. He wasn’t even the first to bring the Museum’s attention to the issue — another dealer had returned a jewel to the Museum earlier that year after purchasing it, expressing concerns that it had been stolen.
The British Museum opened an investigation into the issue, but it was quickly concluded that nothing suspicious had taken place, and the Museum told Gradel that “the objects concerned are all accounted for.”
Fast forward to August 2023, and the British Museum announced that it had fired a staff member suspected of stealing jewels from their collection.
@allie_202_ Get ur discounted semiprecious artifacts on Temu!! #britishmuseum #politics #leftist #news #greenscreen ♬ original sound - Allie O’Brien
The irony was lost on precisely nobody — an institution famous for holding onto artifacts considered stolen from other cultures having its own collection looted? In the words of TikToker Allie O’Brien, “The entire world does hate you.”
As O’Brien explains, the British Museum has consistently argued that it’s entitled to hold on to artifacts like the Parthenon Marbles because it can take better care of them than the Greeks can. This argument collapses under the tiniest amount of scrutiny when you consider that the Museum let an employee steal and sell countless gemstones, including some dating back to the 15th century B.C., all while ignoring the warnings of experts.
As one TikTok commenter put it, the British Museum barely has the right to be upset about this: “Who if not for the British Museum follows the rule of ‘finders keepers’ more strictly. Surely they must be alright with it!”