Three Convicted of Stealing $2.5M. Ming Dynasty Vase from Swiss Museum –

Three men from London were convicted for stealing a £2 million ($2.5 million) vase from the Museum of Far Eastern Art in Geneva, Switzerland, following a police sting operation, the Guardian reported on Saturday.

In June 2019, the group stole a Chinese Ming dynasty vase, along with two other artifacts, with plans to sell it. Undercover police, however, posed as buyers and tricked them into handing the artifact over in October 2021.

On Friday, Mbaki Nkhwa and Kaine Wright were found guilty of one count of conspiracy to convert criminal property. David Lamming plead guilty to the same offense an an earlier hearing in March.

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It took the Metropolitan police’s special crime unit four years of work with Swiss authorities to bring the criminals to justice.

“The white porcelain ‘vase’, which is actually a bottle of the Yongle period of the Ming dynasty, has an interesting tale over its hundreds of years and this is another chapter. I’m glad we were able to return it to its rightful owners,” Detective chief inspector Matt Webb told the Guardian.

The trio had emailed an auction house for a valuation. In July 2020, the auction house tipped off the police, who traced the IP address to Lamming.

Police then posed as buyers when the vase came up for sale at £450,000 ($572,828). At a meeting in a central London hotel, Nkhwa gave police the vase and was subsequently arrested. He and Lamming had been in regular contact with Wright, who drove them to the hotel, according to telephone data.

The Ming-dynasty era items have an estimated value of £3.5 million ($4.5 million); only one of the three items remains missing. A stolen bowl worth £80,000 ($101,836) was sold at a Hong Kong auction house in 2019 and subsequently returned.

A reward of up to £10,000 ($12,730) is being offered for information on the missing “doucai style” wine cup with a decorative chicken.

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