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. At the time of the heist, Hong Kong officials called it the biggest ever to take place in the city.
The stolen property has been valued at $637 million, and many of the pieces have still not been recovered. The objects all belonged to collector Fu Chunxiao, who had kept them in his Hong Kong home. Fu was in mainland China when the heist occurred.
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.
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.”