Three burglars who carried out a record $637 million art theft in Hong Kong but remained oblivious to the value of their historic loot were jailed on Friday, local media reported.
Hong Kong’s art community has been rocked by the theft which included a two-meter-tall scroll containing a 1929 Politburo report written by Mao Zedong valued at hundreds of millions of dollars – but was sold to an amateur collector for only HK$200 ($25).
When police recovered the parchment a month after it was stolen, they found it had been cut in half for ease of storage by the collector, who was also unaware that it was genuine.
The items were recovered in September 2020 from an apartment belonging to Chinese collector Fu Chunxiao in bustling Kowloon.
The loot was worth an estimated total of HK$5 billion ($637 million), with Mao’s scroll alone valued at HK$2.3 billion, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) , making it the biggest heist in town by value.
Ho Yik-chiu, 46, Ng Wing-lun, 45, and Hui Ping-kei, 48, were jailed for up to two and a half years after pleading guilty to involvement in the crime, reports the SCMP.
The court heard that the three men were seasoned burglars who deliberately targeted Fu’s apartment while he was overseas.
Much of the loot has yet to be collected.
A calligraphic letter and a handwritten poem by Mao are still missing, as are dozens of sets of highly prized Chinese stamps, the Post reported.
A collector who received some of the goods alerted the police when he realized the items had been stolen.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)