Unveiled: Curator with 30-year tenure at British Museum faces allegations of artifact theft

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Peter Higgs was sacked earlier this year as the curator of Mediterranean cultures
Peter Higgs was sacked earlier this year as the curator of Mediterranean cultures.
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The individual charged with theft from the British Museum is a seasoned curator who dedicated three decades of service to the institution, as unveiled.

The identity of the accused, Peter Higgs, came to light. He held the position of senior curator specializing in Mediterranean cultures until his dismissal earlier this year. Higgs holds a distinguished reputation as a connoisseur of antiquities and has authored books that complemented several significant museum exhibitions.

His family vehemently maintains his innocence and expresses confidence in his eventual exoneration.

Peter Higgs, aged 56 and a father of two, had been an employee at the museum since 1993. However, he was dismissed from his position following allegations by his superiors that he had purloined various items, among them jewelry crafted from gold, semi-precious stones, and glass. These artifacts ranged in age from 1,500 BC to the 19th century AD.

These items mysteriously disappeared from the museum’s secure storage over the course of several years. Intriguingly, some of these articles had surfaced for sale on eBay as far back as 2016.

Speaking at the family home in Hastings, Greg Higgs, 21, Mr Higgs’s elder son, told The Telegraph: “He’s with family currently for a bit of support because it’s been very hard, losing half of our income pretty suddenly. 

“At this point he doesn’t even really care what people think of him, he just wants a chance to live a normal life.

“It gets to that point sometimes where even if you’re innocent you’d just rather not have everyone speak to you all the time about it, at least from the museum. He’s lost all faith in the museum.

“The one thing he said was that he was really hurt by the fact that even if his colleagues could have supported him they probably wouldn’t be allowed to – that’s what he said to me. 

“He probably doesn’t want to get his colleagues in trouble. He has a lot of great friends there. He was always very involved, went to the Christmas parties every year. 

“I spent a lot of time there growing up. Every few months we would go and visit dad at work and annoy all of his colleagues at work. It was a massive part of our lives really and it wasn’t something we ever expected to change.”

Greg, presently employed as a pool lifeguard, expressed his reluctance to pursue a university education due to witnessing his father’s lifelong financial challenges.

“It wasn’t super easy before because you’d think world experts would get paid a bit more than they do, but a PhD doesn’t mean everything. That’s why I didn’t go to uni, because I saw him struggling with money his whole life,” he said. 

“I don’t want to go down the university route, I want to just work, save and be responsible with money. Try that approach.”

He added: “The most I can say is that from our perspective I don’t think any of this has been very fair. His name has been completely dragged through the mud and demonised.

“I believe it was the 5th of July that he was given notice. 

“I think he had been under investigation for a while, but he didn’t tell any of us until the day it happened to be honest.”

Greg, who was away with his girlfriend when he found out his father had been sacked, said: “It was a massive shock because my dad had had the job for 35 years, and then coming home from a holiday to see everyone so devastated. It was horrific. 

“He’d loved his job for so long, he was amazing at it; he published books and just recently he was doing exhibitions for them in other countries. He recently went to a dig in Turkey, so you would never have thought anything was going on. And then one day everything changed.

He added: “He hasn’t been doing great since it happened. It’s been really sad to watch him be so upset all the time about it. I had never seen him cry before this. He’s devastated, he really is.”

During an interview with The Greek Herald newspaper last year, Mr. Higgs shared that his childhood experiences of frequenting the British Museum alongside his parents had ignited his imagination.

He was curating an exhibition of 178 objects from ancient Greece at the time, and told the newspaper: “We wanted the exhibition to tell a story about real people and their aspirations in life and death. This helps modern day viewers to engage more with these people who lived such a long time ago.”

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