Oscar Wilde’s twice stolen ring found again


This video says about itself:

Friday, November 15, 2019

A golden ring once given as a present by the famed Irish writer Oscar Wilde has been recovered by a Dutch “art detective” nearly 20 years after it was stolen from Britain’s Oxford University. The friendship ring, a joint gift from Wilde to a fellow student in 1876, was taken during a burglary in 2002 at Magdalen College, where the legendary dandy studied.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The Dutch art detective Arthur Brand has found the lost ring of the famous writer Oscar Wilde. The Irish author donated his ring in 1876 to the University of Oxford, where he studied. The ring was stolen in 2002 and had since been considered lost.

But thanks to Arthur Brand, the ring has surfaced again and will soon return to Oxford. “I have to admit that I did wear it for a while with pride,” says Brand. The art detective is a big fan of the writer. When he searched for something about Wilde seven years ago, he came across the story of the stolen ring. That is how a long search began.

The ring was stolen in 2002 by a university cleaner. He was looking for evidence that his wife, who also worked at the university, was having an affair. He did not find that proof, but he did find the ring and he took it. The man was sentenced, but the ring remained lost: he claimed he had it melted down.

“I didn’t believe that. Most thieves say something like that, so they don’t have to betray to whom they’ve sold something,” says Brand. The art detective was convinced that the ring still had to be somewhere. “I have quite a few contacts in England so I started asking around, but unfortunately nothing came out.”

Senior citizen robbery in 2015

In 2015, a group of mostly elderly men broke into a locker business in the London jewellery district of Hatton Garden. They stole jewellery for 20 million euros. The theft is seen as the biggest robbery in British history. “Soon after, rumors arose in the criminal underworld that things had been found that had been stolen before. Eg, it was said that there was a Victorian ring with a Russian text,” says Brand.

Brand actually already knew that it had to be Oscar Wilde’s ring, because the description almost corresponded exactly with what the ring looked like. “Only there is no Russian on Wilde’s ring, but a Greek text. The criminals couldn’t tell apart Russian and Greek and they didn’t know it was the famous writer’s ring. The ring was therefore stolen twice.”

Through various intermediaries, the art detective finally managed to find the person who owned the ring. “By now, almost all of London was looking for the ring, because Oscar Wilde is so famous that even criminals knew who he was.”

The person who had it was shocked when he heard that it was Oscar Wilde’s ring. “He or she, because I don’t know who it was, would probably have bought that ring as an ordinary Victorian ring. For perhaps a few hundred pounds. If they had known at that time that it was Wilde’s ring, that price would have been sky high.”

It still had to be checked whether the ring was ‘real’. Then Brand finally got hold of the ring. He couldn’t resist wearing the ring for a while. “I certainly put it on my finger a couple of times. I don’t normally wear jewellery and it is not my style at all. Wilde was, of course, the prototype of a dandy so that ring is a bit over the top. But I think he would really like it if he knew that a big fan had worn his ring.”

The ring is now in a safe place in England and on Wednesday, December 4 he will be presented with a ceremony at the University of Oxford, the rightful owner. “I miss it a bit. You got a kind of bond with it”, says Brand.

It is not the first time that Arthur Brand has been able to find a great art treasure.

Earlier, Mr Brand discovered that the theft of 17th-century paintings and silverware from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, the Netherlands, had been done by the secret police of Ukraine, jointly with the neofascist Svoboda party.

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