Three Men Convicted of Stealing Ming Dynasty Vase

Three Men Have Been Convicted for Stealing Chinese Ming Dynasty Vase from a Museum in Switzerland.

Aug 24, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Three Men
The Ming Tombs are located 50 km (31 mi) north of Beijing. Via Wikipedia


Three men from London – Mbaki Nkhwa, Kaine Wright, and David Lamming – have a connection with stealing an expensive Ming Dynasty Vase. Overall, these men stole the vase, four years ago from Geneva’s Museum of Far Eastern Art. Since then, the action to locate the artifact began, and the authorities found it in 2021. The museum retrieved the vase, which is now better protected.


Three Men Guilty for Conspiring to Use Stolen Goods

Ming Dynasty vase
Ming Dynasty vase, Courtesy of the Metropolitan Police.


The Metropolitan Police started the operation and managed to retrieve the stolen property. The Ming Dynasty vase is estimated at $2.5 million. Two of them, Nkhwa and Wright, received a conviction of one charge of conspiring to use stolen goods, on August 18. Third accomplice entered a guilty plea for the exact same crime in March. Their sentence starts in October.


The chief inspector spoke about suspected people. “The organized crime group involved in this offending believed they could commit significant offenses internationally and that there would be no comeback”, said Detective Chief Inspector Matt Webb of the Metropolitan Police’s specialist crime department.


Three Men, Ming Vase
[L to R] Mbaki Nkhwa, David Lamming, and Kaine Wright. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Police.

Webb also added: “They were mistaken, highlighting the strength of our relations with international law enforcement partners and our ability to work across international boundaries. The white porcelain vase—which is actually a bottle of the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty—has an interesting tale over its hundreds of years”.


Thieves Located Through an Email Account IP Adress

Great Wall China steps.
Great Wall China steps. Archive

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“This is another chapter. I’m glad we were able to return it to its rightful owners”, the inspector added. Things started coming to light 4 years ago. then an auction house contacted the police and said that an anonymous person had contacted the institution regarding the stolen vase. Investigators were able to locate Lamming’s residence using the IP address of the email account.


In 2021, Scotland Yard agents pretended to be purchasers and met Nkhwa for the scam operation. They met in the hotel, which is in the London center, and made him a proposal of $570,000 for the artifact. The moment he turned the vase over, the police detained him. After that, officers followed a trace of mobile information and connected Nkhwa and Lamming to Wright.


great wall china ming dynasty
The Great Wall of China, photo by Hung Chung Chih, via National Geographic


Then they arranged a meeting between the three of them. Vandals also took a bowl from the Ming Dynasty and a wine cup in the “doucai style” from the same museum. Their estimated worth is $100,000 and $10,000. The authorities managed to locate the bowl, but the cup was still missing.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.