A man has been interviewed by the Metropolitan Police following alleged thefts at the British Museum, though the force confirmed no arrests have been made.
The British Museum revealed last week that police are investigating items that are “missing, stolen or damaged” from its collection.
These are thought to number between 1,500 to 2,000 objects, including gold jewellery, semi-precious stones and glass dating between 1,500BC and the 19th century AD.
It is understood the items were taken before 2023 over a significant time period.
In a statement on Thursday, police said: “A man has been interviewed by investigating officers. No arrests have been made.
“We have worked closely with the British Museum and will continue to do so. We will not be providing any further information at this time. Inquiries continue.”
A senior curator who had been working at the museum for three decades, Peter Higgs, was reportedly fired earlier this year over the disappearance of the artefacts.
His family denies he has done anything wrong. Mr Higgs, 56, has not been linked to any thefts.
The museum has said that legal action is being taken against an unnamed member of staff, who has been sacked.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by The Times has reportedly shown that hundreds of artefacts have gone missing from the London-based institution since 2013.
The newspaper reported on Thursday that a Greek silver coin, a 4th-century Roman coin and a German coin disappeared in the year to April 2014, according to the FOI.
An early 20th-century ring, a chain made up of “round-sectioned silver wire”, wooden opium poppy scorers shaped like birds and frogs, and glazed leaf pendants and beads are also said to be among the items missing over the decade.
Emails leaked to BBC News claim the museum was alerted by an antiquities dealer to items being sold on eBay in 2021 but ignored the report.
Director Hartwig Fischer said the museum had taken concerns two years ago about a small number of items “seriously”.
The German art historian, who the museum announced in July would step down from his role next year, added: “The investigation concluded that those items were all accounted for.
“We now have reason to believe that the individual who raised concerns had many more items in his possession, and it’s frustrating that that was not revealed to us as it would have aided our investigations.”
He also said a full audit in 2022 had revealed a “bigger” problem which led to police involvement.
Mr Fischer also said: “I am clear that at every step my priority has been the care of the incredible British Museum collection, and that continues today – with our commitment to learning lessons from the independent review, our determination to help the police with their criminal investigation, and our focus on the recovery programme.”
Ittai Gradel, an author, academic and antiquities dealer, who said he alerted the museum, disagreed with its version of events.
He said: “The claim that I withheld information from the BM (British Museum) is an outright lie, and I can prove it.
“I was explicit in my communication with the BM that I was entirely at their disposal for any further information or assistance they would require. They never contacted me.”
An independent review of security has been launched and the matter is also under investigation by the economic crime command of the Metropolitan Police.
The review will be led by former museum trustee Sir Nigel Boardman and Lucy D’Orsi, Chief Constable of British Transport Police.
Online marketplace eBay said: “Our dedicated law enforcement liaison team is in close contact with the Metropolitan Police and is supporting the investigation into this case.
“eBay does not tolerate the sale of stolen property. If we identify that a listing on our site is stolen, we immediately remove it and work with law enforcement to support investigations and keep our site safe.”
Additional reporting by PA