Valuable artefacts stolen from Durham University’s Oriental Museum
Durham University’s Oriental Museum had two highly valuable Chinese artefacts stolen during a break-in on Thursday night.
The thieves are believed to have entered the Malcolm MacDonald gallery, located on the ground floor of the museum, shortly after 10 pm on Thursday.
A 1769 jade bowl with a Chinese poem inscribed on the inside was taken along with a porcelain sculpture from the Dehua region depicting fairies in a boat.
The collective value of the two items is estimated by Durham Police to be £1.8m. A Durham Police spokeswoman has said that there is a possibility the artefacts were taken on behalf of a foreign collector.
The bowl and the sculpture are both from China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, which lasted from 1644 to 1911.
Durham Police have identified possible suspects and are seeking three men who are reported to have paid particular attention to the cabinet containing the artefacts earlier the same day.
The Oriental Museum’s curator Dr Craig Barclay has expressed his dismay at the loss of artefacts he describes as ‘highly significant’. Museum officials are hopeful that the artefacts can be recovered.
The Oriental Museum, situated across the road from Van Mildert College, has closed for the Easter weekend as a result of the theft.
Durham Police is urging anyone who was in the area of Elvet Hill Road on Thursday night to contact them with any information.