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.