How “Indiana Jones of the Art World” recovered an Oscar Wilde ring stolen from Oxford University
On the ring are Greek texts, criminals thought it was Russian, © Menno van Wees

How “Indiana Jones of the Art World” recovered an Oscar Wilde ring stolen from Oxford University

An 18- carat gold ring that was stolen in 2002 from Oxford University’s Magdalen College’s large collection of memorabilia related to Oscar Wilde has been recovered by Arthur Brand, the Dutch art detective. Bearing an inscription in Greek meaning “Gift of love, to one who wishes love.” the ring was a gift from Wilde and fellow student Reginald Harding to their friend William Ward in 1876.

Taken by former college cleaner Eamonn Andrews in an inebriated robbery spree, the ring was valued at £35,000 (40,650 euros, $45,000) at the time. Announcing a £3,500 reward for the return did not turn out to be fruitful after Andrews confessed selling it to a scrap dealer for £150. Lost for nearly two decades and speculated to have even been melted, the ring will be returned to the collection by Aurthur Brand after a small ceremony on December 4.

Monikered “Indiana Jones of the Art World”, Aurthur has other stunning finds of over 200 high profile artworks to his credit such as Picasso painting stolen from a yacht in France, and “Hitler’s Horses”, two bronze statues made by Nazi sculptor Joseph Thorak, Salvador Dali’s “Adolescence”, a 1600-year-old missing mosaic, and a Byzantine-era depiction of St. Mark.

Brand ventured on his search after picking up rumours about a Victorian ring with some Russian writing on it from art underworld soon after 2015 burglary at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit, a heist by a gang of elderly criminals called “biggest burglary in English legal history.”

In his quest, Brand was helped by London-based antique dealer named William Veres and George Crump that Brand in his AFP interview described as a “decent man with knowledge of the London criminal underworld.” Crump through his late uncle had links with the infamous Kray twins, who were jailed in the 1960s. Working his channels with a mediator, Crump finally tracked down the owner who then eventually handed the painting over to Brand via the mediator at outside the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company this gone October.

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