A Hong Kong court sentenced three men to two and a half years in jail for stealing a group of valuable stamps, coins, and artifacts from a collector in 2020. When the heist took place, Hong Kong officials called the theft the biggest heist to ever take place in the city.
The group of objects has been valued at $637 million, and many of the objects that were taken have still not been recovered. The objects all belonged to collector Fu Chunxiao, who had kept them in his Hong Kong home. Fu had been in mainland China while the heist occurred.
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Among the most expensive objects stolen was a nine-foot-long scroll containing a Politburo report that Mao Zedong had written in calligraphy in 1929. Fu claimed that he planned to donate the scroll to an institution prior to its theft.
According to Hong Kong authorities, the thieves did not know how important this scroll was, and they sold it for the equivalent of $25 to an amateur buyer, who also did not know its true value and cut it in two to stow it away more easily.
Police have since recovered the scroll. Officials have valued it at $300 million. Also stolen during the heist were thousands of stamps and 10 bronze coins.
The three men who received jail sentences—Ho Yik-chiu, Ng Wing-lun, and Hui Ping-kei—all pleaded guilty. During their trial, lawyers reportedly presented evidence that they had attempted heists previously.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Fu said that he found their sentences “too lenient given the value of lost items.”