3 jailed for Hong Kong’s priciest art heist, after selling billion-dollar scroll for HK$200

Three burglars who carried out a record-breaking US$637 million art heist in Hong Kong but remained oblivious to the value of their historic haul were jailed Friday, local media reported.

Police show a picture of a calligraphy scroll written by Mao Zedong worth about 300 million USD, that had been recovered but found chopped in half following a robbery that included antique stamps and revolutionary items from mainland China worth an estimated US$637 million, at a press conference in Hong Kong on October 7, 2020. File photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP.

Hong Kong’s art community was rocked by the theft that included a two-metre 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 just HK$200 (US$25).

When police recovered the parchment a month after it was stolen, they discovered it had been cut in half to make it easier to store by the collector, who also did not realise it was genuine.

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