A large ornate jade bowl and a glazed porcelain sculpture from the Qing Dynasty have been lifted from the Malcom MacDonald Gallery at Durham University Oriental Museum in North East England. The artifacts have an estimated joint value of £1.8 million ($2.86 million). Thieves are thought to have broken into the ground-floor gallery between 10 and 10.40pm on Thursday, April 5th. Police suspect a foreign collector might have ordered the robbery.
Dating from 1769, the jade bowl — which has a poem inscribed inside — was originally in the collection of Sir Charles Hardinge, a renowned collector of jades and hard stones. The sculpture represents seven fairies on a boat, and comes from Dehua County, famous for its ceramic products.
"We are extremely upset to have fallen victim to such a serious crime," said museum curator Craig Barclay. "The two pieces are highly significant in that they are fine examples of artifacts from the Qing Dynasty in the mediums of porcelain and hard stone. We very much hope that police will be able to recover them and we urge anybody who may have any information about their whereabouts to contact the police immediately."
Two men and a woman have been arrested and questioned at Durham Police Station, but the priceless artworks are still to be found and may have already been smuggled out of the country.