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Six held in $32-million Chinese art thefts from British museums

May 03, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
(Daniel Berehulak / Getty…)

Six people have been arrested on suspicion of stealing Chinese artifacts worth more than $32 million from two British museums.

Police in London on Wednesday arrested two men suspected of the April 13 theft of 18 mostly jade antiques worth $29 million from Cambridge University's Fitzwilliam Museum.

The Associated Press reports that on Tuesday, police arrested two men and two women in Walsall, a town in central England, suspected in a recent theft at Durham University's Oriental Museum.

Thieves on April 3 chiseled a three-foot hole in the wall of the Durham museum and stole a bowl and figurine worth almost $3.2 million.

It was unclear whether the thefts were related. Police are still looking for a seventh suspected thief in connection with the Durham University theft.

The director of the Fitzwilliam Museum is Timothy Potts, the newly appointed director of the Getty Museum. He begins his job at the Getty in September.

The arrests were made after authorities made a public appeal Tuesday night on "Crimewatch," a BBC program dedicated to unsolved crimes.

Police recovered the Durham artifacts, both from the Qing Dynasty, in mid-April and museum officials said they planned to put the pieces -- a bowl that dates back to the 18th century with a poem inscribed inside and a 12-inch figurine of seven fairies in a boat – back on display.

The Fitzwilliam artifacts have not been recovered. Staff at the Cambridge museum recently put out a plea asking for any information about the carved jade figures from the Ming and Qing dynasties, some more than 500 years old.


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