BAA flogs Dowager Duchess of Argyll’s lost jewellery

Today’s edition of The Independent (18 June) carries a remarkable story of careless corporate pragmatism.

Four items of valuable jewellery were either found or handed in to staff at Glasgow Airport in 2006. The Independent puts their combined value at around £100,000.

The British Airports Authority (BAA), owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, did not trouble to inform the police of such specific lost property. It sold them in the same way it would have disposed of any general lost property. In this case it sold them to a diamond merchant for an alleged £5,000.

The Dowager Duchess of Argyll had evidently lost this jewellery in a bag at Glasgow Airport in that year and had reported it to police and to the Art Loss Register which maintains a database of missing and stolen artefacts.

This year, 2012, according to The Independent the Duchess saw, listed as an items in a Lyon & Turnbull auction catalogue, one of the lost items, a Cartier brooch.

The consequent investigation revealed BAA’s cavalier action.

The brooch put up for auction had been bought in good faith from the diamond merchant whose ship had come in, courtesy of the following wind from BAA.

An embarrassed BAA is quoted as saying that it has paid  ‘a sum equivalent to the money raised from the sale to enable the items to be returned to their rightful owner’. Can they mean they have paid only £5,000 to make the restoration possible?

Anyway, it seems as if some, if not all, of the items may he making their way back to Inveraray – and BAA is said to be reviewing its stance on lost property.

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2 Responses to BAA flogs Dowager Duchess of Argyll’s lost jewellery

  1. The diamond merchant who bought them for an alleged £5,000 was, of course, a person of the highest integrity, a pillar of the community, and entirely unaware of the true worth of the gems – and that they would therefore undoubtedly have been sorely missed by their real owner. My heart goes out to this poor character.

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    • The presumption is that the insurance company will now be paid back the money that it had to part with .Such a sad loss.
      Did i miss the government announcement of the second fools day of the year. Who carries 100k of jewellery around Glasgow airport, and takes it out of the bag to look at it. Amazing that the earrings and platinum diamond ring turned up as well. Too many questions to be asked on this one.????

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