It is now believed that more than 1,500 objects worth millions were stolen or destroyed by a thief in the British Museum.
Sources said the true number – some of which are as old as 3,500 years – may be “closer to 2,000”.
However, due to gaps in the London museum’s inventory, it may never be known exactly what went missing.
A Roman object valued at between £25,000 and £50,000 was offered on eBay for £40.
The thefts were discovered during an internal investigation.
Prof Martin Henig, an expert on Roman art at Oxford University, described the extent of the losses as “terrible” and “unforgivable”.
He said: “It’s the worst case I’ve ever seen because it’s not just about selling one thing or another, it’s also about destruction.”
A senior curator, Peter Higgs, was fired in July.
He worked at the museum for 30 years and denies any wrongdoing, his family said.
The museum has not given a figure on the number of items stolen, nor has it released photos or descriptions.
A source said the handling of the case was “negligent and incompetent”.
An independent review is hoping for an improvementArticle. The police made no arrests.