3 British men convicted after police recover stolen vase worth $2.5 million

3 British men convicted after police recover stolen vase worth $2.5 million

Vase one of 3 Ming Dynasty items estimated at $4.45 million stolen from Museum of Far Eastern Art in 2019

By Burak Bir

LONDON (AA) - Three British men have been convicted of a $2.5 million Chinese Ming Dynasty vase stolen from a museum that was recovered in a police operation, according to Metropolitan Police on Saturday.

"The men were arrested and charged in connection with the burglary in June 2019 of a Chinese Ming Dynasty Vase from the Museum of Far Eastern Art in Geneva," police said in a statement.

The arrests followed a four-year operation between the Metropolitan Police and Swiss law enforcement that ended up returning the vase to the Museum of Far Eastern Art.

"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 said in the statement.

Mbaki Nkhwa, 47, Kaine Wright, 26, and David Lamming, 31 were found guilty Friday of conspiracy to convert criminal property at Southwark Crown Court in London.

The investigation started with a call to police by an auction house in July 2020, advising that an unknown person had contacted it with knowledge of the whereabouts of the stolen vase and was seeking a valuation.

Police later launched an undercover operation and when the vase was offered for sale, officials posed as buyers and agreed to a £450,000 ($570,000) price.

"This culminated in a meeting at a central London hotel in which Nkhwa handed over the vase to officers," said police.

Three items from the Ming Dynasty were stolen during the burglary in 2019, estimated to be worth £3.5 million ($4.45 million).

Nkhwa, Wright, and Lamming will be sentenced Oct. 13.

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