Airport Finds Bag Of Lost Jewels & Just Decides To Sell Them

It’s not every day that duchesses go around losing diamond tiaras (at least, not that we know of), so when the Duchess of Argyll lost a bag with the tiara and three other precious jewelry items at the Glasgow Airport, she was a bit distraught. She went for years without the items, until one of them turned up for sale.

So how did her blingy baubles make their way to an auction house in 2012? In 2006, when the duchess lost her bag on her way home to Inveraray Castle (a castle!), she reported the loss to police and listed the items on the Art Loss Register’s database. She heard nothing, until spotting her Cartier brooch in a catalogue of a Scottish auction house, reports The Independent.

It turns out the jewelry showed up months after its loss, but the British Airports Authority decided to sell the items and give the money for charity, which is their usual procedure for lost property unclaimed within three months.

According to the Art Loss Register’s lawyer:

“Apparently, the airport found the jewels or they were turned in to ‘lost and found’ by someone… The question remains: what did they do to help find the owner? They didn’t call the police even though the airport police had a record of the theft. They didn’t call ALR. The only thing they did was sell them.”

The 68-year-old duchess is in a bit of disbelief.

“I’m absolutely amazed. I thought that after six years I’d lost them forever. The tiara was a Victorian family one and the necklace was given to me for my 21st birthday. So everything was very special. “

The BAA has offered to reimburse the diamond merchant for what it paid for the tiara and brooch, while an emerald ring and pearl earrings are still missing.

A rep for the BAA says the agency is going to rethink its procedures as a result.

“We have since assisted the police with their recent enquiries and paid a sum equivalent to the money raised from the sale to enable the items to be returned to their rightful owner,” he said.

A nice trade in tiaras: Glasgow Airport sells of Duchess of Argyll’s very posh lost property [The Independent]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Yeah… Having a hard time feeling sorry for this woman.

    • nicless says:

      Yeah, screw her for being rich! That’ll teach you to have money!

      • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

        My bad. You’re totally right.

        I’ll bet she worked her little tush off her entire life for what she has. You think?

        • AstroPig7 says:

          Look at that! It’s the point, going straight over your head.

          • longfeltwant says:

            The point is “easy come, easy go”. I don’t feel bad because a person loses a thing; I feel bad because a person loses something they deserve to have. Most things had by most people, are things they more or less deserve to have. In some cases, however, a person came into a possession in a way which fails to generate sympathy.

            Which kind of thing is this? It’s hard to say, but I can say absolutely that the entire notion of “royalty” is disgusting, embarrassing, anachronistic and antidemocratic. So, if she had these jewels because she is royalty, which is likely but not definite, then yeah I don’t sympathize with that. What she should have done is sold the gems herself, renounced her royal status, and given the money to charity. Short of that, she can afford to pay people for her the sympathy she wants to receive.

            • eldergias says:

              So the family heirloom that is passed down through generations and held as a treasured possession by a normal person is an unearned, undeserved possession (that person didn’t earn it). You wouldn’t feel bad if someone lost that item, that they loved?

              • longfeltwant says:

                As I explained, it would depend on the item. Also as I explained, I don’t have enough information to say in this case — only enough to speculate. What do you think?

                • eldergias says:

                  I agree, there isn’t a ton of information here. Without further information, just go with the information you have. Person X lost item Y in place Z. Person X reported lost item Y to place Z and reported it to the police. Place Z found the item and rather than return it, sold it. Without further information, this seems completely clear cut, place Z wronged person X and place Z was completely out of line.

                  • longfeltwant says:

                    Oh, yeah, the airport definitely did the wrong thing. They sold as “lost” an item which obviously would be reported to authorities. They failed their duty of care. What they did was boneheaded and unethical. No doubt about that.

                    A separate question is whether or not we should feel bad for this person who lost something valuable. The story gives the context that this birthright-lady received some birthright-goods, and then lost them. I might need to know more about the reception of the goods to be absolutely sure, but the most likely explanation is that she received these jewels because of her birthright, not because she is a nice person or a favorite daughter or worked hard for them. *IF* that is in fact the case, which it might not be, then my sympathy *for her loss* drops from 98% to 2%.

                    • Coffee says:

                      Ding! This is where I stand. Does it suck that she lost her jewels? Yup! Do people lose things they care about all the time? Yup! Should someone have put all the pieces together and figured things out in order to get her property returned? Probably. Do I feel especially bad for her? Nah…she’s a scion of the Cadbury chocolate empire and positively loaded. Does that make her pain less real? Financially speaking, yes. I feel worse for a poor kid whose bike is stolen and whose parents can’t afford a new one than I do for this lady.

                      It sucks for her, but I’m not losing sleep over it.

                    • VintageLydia says:

                      It doesn’t sound like she’s upset because of the money. It sounds like at least some of these items had sentimental and familial value and she’s upset on that front.

                    • Coffee says:

                      Right…I understand that. So let’s just set aside the fact that she carelessly misplaced something of sentimental value. That happens. And let’s ignore that the objects, while of sentimental value, were not worth enough time for her or people working for her to contact the airport police or lost & found. Maybe they didn’t know to do that.

                      That leaves us with the following story: a woman lost something of sentimental value. The authorities fumbled the ball and – in a well-meaning gesture – donated the proceeds from the item’s sale to charity. Now that this wealthy, influential woman knows what happened to the items, they are bending over backwards six years later to make things right (who knows if they would have done the same for you or me…). Okay. Great for her. I don’t think anyone is saying that she’s a hateful figure or anything like that, only that it’s hard to garner much sympathy for a person like this when there are literally billions of people around the world dealing with more immediate problems on a daily basis.

                    • Conformist138 says:

                      “And let’s ignore that the objects, while of sentimental value, were not worth enough time for her or people working for her to contact the airport police or lost & found. Maybe they didn’t know to do that.”

                      You lost everything right there- she reported it to the airport, reported it to the police, and filed with a frickin’ lost art database. What more exactly do you want her to do?

                      I agree I don’t feel as bad for her as someone who can’t afford to replace a stolen bike for their kid, but I also don’t feel as bad for that kid as I do a starving child in Ethiopia. I rarely have sympathies for the super rich that are completely out of touch with the realities of common people, but in this case I’m more considering this “personal items lost and reported to authorities, items end up sold by airport instead”. The value of the items is only relevant in that it explains how she stumbled upon them at auction. Her riches don’t have anything to do with being angry that personal items were sold after she’d filed all the appropriate reports.

                    • Coffee says:

                      You have my apologies…reading the article, it seemed like she informed the police, but not the airport police. Yes…obviously people screwed up and the proper procedure was not followed.

                    • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

                      I always poop on Wednesdays.

                    • Coffee says:


                    • Blueskylaw says:


                    • Blueskylaw says:


                    • Blueskylaw says:


                    • Coffee says:


                    • eldergias says:

                      I guess we differ slightly then. So long as the item or money the person has lost didn’t come into their possession by “wrong” means (i.e. – theft, trickery, deceit, exploitation, ect.) then I feel bad for them.

            • TheMansfieldMauler says:

              Yeah, screw anyone with family heirlooms, or gifts they received on special occasions like their 21st birthday. She should have donated all that stuff to charity as soon as she received it. Just like you do for everything you don’t really need. Right?

          • MonkeyMonk says:

            Poor Warren. Must be tough going through life seething with envy for others more fortunate than yourself.

            • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

              Yeah, that’s all it is. I envy this woman’s shiny things.

              Here’s a rubber band for you to play with.

          • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

            Maude started it. ;-D

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:


      If I lost a sentimental gift or a family heirloom, and reported it missing, and the finder–to whom I reported it missing–up and sold it?

      I’d be upset, and I sympathize entirely.

      Just because she was born into wealth doesn’t make her any less human, or make her feelings any less valid.

      • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

        My problem isn’t really that she lost something she valued, my problem is that she’s royalty. Do you think for one second if this had been a poor immigrant who lost the only valuable he/she owned anyone would give a shit? You think it would even come close to making the news? F*ck no.

        • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

          She is not royalty. She is nobility.

        • eldergias says:

          I would care. Anyone with any humanity in them should care.

          The fact that you don’t care at all what happens to this woman is disturbing, and speaks to your character. How does having money or being nobility make her a bad person or worth less than any other person? I am not saying she is more important than a poor immigrant, I am saying she is just as important as a poor immigrant. What is your reasoning or rationale that it is okay for bad things to happen to her because she is nobility? Just because she is nobility doesn’t mean she is a bad person, case in point: Princess Dianna was one of the greatest humanitarians of the last century. If this woman was a total B**** to people and treated people like trash, I would agree with you, but without that information you just appear to be resorting to classism.

          • longfeltwant says:

            “How does being nobility make her a bad person”

            To accept the validity of the notion of nobility, makes a person a bad person. The entire concept is immoral, and people who accept it are immoral people — all the more when they themselves are the royals.

            • eldergias says:

              I agree it is an out dated and unnecessary social convention, but making them bad people? I will agree with that for a subset of “nobility”: “nobility” who think they are inherently better than other people specifically because they are “nobility.” I will grant that this subset comprises most of the entire category of nobility, and it may even encompass all of nobility, but the two are not synonymous. I can envision people who were born into “noble” families who rejected that life style (specifically, there have been members of the royal family who have renounced their heritage and claims to the throne before), or who realized that their position in life was just one of circumstance and don’t see themselves as “better” or “special”. Do most nobles things they are better than other people? Probably. Do all of them think that? I doubt it, but who really knows?

          • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

            “If this woman was a total B**** to people and treated people like trash, I would agree with you, but without that information you just appear to be resorting to classism.”

            I’m not resorting to anything. I didn’t structure the world so that a select few have most of the wealth while the majority have as little as possible to survive. Royalty, nobility, corporations and leaders in general did that. The game has been rigged since the beginning, and if you take the side of a duchess who lost her jewels I pity you.

            • eldergias says:

              Not talking about the article here, just talking about people in general:

              So the person who claws their way up from poverty to wealth, do you have a problem with that person? I am guessing you don’t have an issue with them. But then that person has a child, who is then born into wealth. Then that kid is to be looked down upon because he was born into wealth as opposed to earning it? That seems to be where your argument goes. How is that fair or make sense? That kid didn’t choose to be born into wealth or poverty. What did that kid do to earn your scorn? Mere existence is not a sufficient answer.

              • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

                “So the person who claws their way up from poverty to wealth, do you have a problem with that person?”

                Depends how they claw their way up. By lying and stealing? Not good. By hard work? I’d be more inclined to respect that person, yes. I don’t fault people for being born into wealth; as you said, it’s not their choice. But when someone loses a bag of jewels and just happens to be a duchess, I don’t feel as bad as I would if a less wealthy person suffered a greater financial loss and couldn’t feed their family. Why? Because I relate to the latter more than the former, that’s all. A lot of people on this thread are quick to ramble on about how we all deserve to be treated equally. Look around: a select few obviously didn’t get the memo.

                My initial comment was basically this: a duchess loses her jewels. Tragic? Will she starve? Definitely not. Hence, I don’t feel too bad for her. Now if she’d lost her daughter in a crowd and was torn up about it (some parents wouldn’t be), hell yeah I’d feel bad for her. My lack of compassion has more to do with this loss being about shiny things than her as a person. The airline did a stupid thing here, but this wouldn’t be a story I’d follow, if you know what I’m saying.

                You mentioned Lady Diana before; she’s a classic example of someone who didn’t buy into the royalty bullshit. She was a saint, God rest her. Go watch ‘The Queen’ with Helen Mirren and then sing me the praises of we’re all the same, if you can.

                • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

                  “Now if she’d lost her daughter in a crowd…”

                  Or granddaughter, if you will.

        • Northern Lights says:

          Yes, I do. The existence of this site is proof that people care when procedures like this are abused. “(Airline) lost my (Important Property/Pet/Etc)” is a constant story on here. If the person later found their property for sale or their pet in some kind of shelter because of the actions, negligent or otherwise, of the airline it would be an even bigger thing. Put away your biases here, the reason the story is important is that the airline did a bad thing to someone who handled the loss of their property in the proper way, and there is proof of it. It’s not because she has lots of money.

          • Northern Lights says:

            Or the airport authority as in this story, instead of the airline. My kingdom for an edit button.

          • chefboyardee says:

            my personal bias initially led me to warren’s reaction, but your reply actually changed my mind and made me realize i WAS being biased, and stupid.

            i applaud you for your response. very well thought out, thank you for posting. seriously.

      • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

        It’s not clear if she did report it to the “the finder” (airport/airline). We do know that she reported it to the police & the Art Loss Registry. Maybe she didn’t realize when/where it was lost & reported it stolen.

    • voogru says:

      Yeah, it’s okay to steal stuff from rich people, because like, they’re rich!

      Newsflash: To someone else on this planet, you are super rich.

    • Citizen says:

      Ya just think if she would have checked the lost and found she would not have had this problem

    • Difdi says:

      Why not? Someone lost property, reported it to the airport, and the airport didn’t even attempt to notify the owner (who is NOT hard to find) when the property turned up, they simply sold it.

      It’s not quite grand theft, but it may well still be a felony-level crime, and it’s definitely sleazy.

      • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

        See Coffee’s comment at the bottom — he sums it up pretty nicely I think.

    • badgertale says:

      I’m with you on this one.

    • smo0 says:

      Why, just because she lives a different live than you.
      Obviously these were heirloom items. I have quite a bit of family jewelery – I couldn’t tell you how much they’d be appraised at now, almost 100 years old – passed down. Even some art.

      Are you going to have a hard time feeling bad for me if I lost them?
      It’s not like she went to Cartier, bought a diamond ring then misplaced it. Some of these items might be irreplaceable.
      Get off your high horse.

      • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

        “Why, just because she lives a different live than you.”

        Lives a different live than you. Indeed. I could hear you slurring when I read this. Did you have vodka for lunch again? ;-D

  2. finbar says:

    I hate it when I leave a bag of Jewelry behind…

  3. Coffee says:

    Stories like this just tear me apart…if I were carrying my Bag of Jewels around and carelessly left it somewhere, I would certainly hope that the authorities would make a greater effort to get them back to me. Instead, they sell them and donate the proceeds to charity. Disgusting. These were sentimental pieces, too…instead of wearing the necklace she received for her 21st birthday, she’s had to spend all these years wearing the opal one she received for her 22nd birthday, or the diamond choker she inherited from the Duchess of Camembert.

    I’m glad that the airport has reimbursed the jeweler who purchased these pieces – hopefully out of the same account that it uses to make charitable contributions – and I hope they find the ring and earrings as well; there’s a mannequin in the duchess’s walk-in closet that looks positively naked without them.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      She didn’t inherit it from the Duchess of Camembert,
      she inherited it from the Duchess of Triple Cream Brie.

      • Coffee says:

        No, no, no, you git. The choker came from Camembert. You’re thinking of her bejeweled knuckledusters. That Duchess of Triple Cream Brie always was a randy one…too bad her free spirit finally did her in when she tried to seduced a silverback gorilla.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      It still sucks. They were family things. Moreover, they were HER things, which she reported the loss of, and some nice person turned in. I would be mad as hell if this happened to me, whether it was a diamond tiara or the teeny weeny (real!) emerald earrings I was given for a birthday.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Cool. So when you lose shit, no one should ever bother doing the right thing, which is to attempt to return it.

  4. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    I’m guessing the items appeared like costume jewelery, and were just assumed to be the same. I would also wager that they have a third party handle the auctions, so they were probably removed from the initial reporting.

  5. gman863 says:

    Wow. They did a better job of grabbing the family jewels than the TSA.

  6. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    AFAIK airports don’t spend much time trying to track down owners if the goods are not labeled & ownership is not obvious. The burden is on travellers to report the loss to the airline. According to this article this was not done.

    Likely the jewels were in a suitcase with other stuff: “Lot 67 suitcase with old lady’s clothing” not “Lot 67 real princess jewelery”.

    • bben says:

      Airlines & Airports don’t spend much time trying to track down the owners of lost property even if the name, address and phone numbers are plastered all over them. My ex boss lost a briefcase with his paperwork for a project. He had a ID tag on the handle, a case with business cards inside, his letterhead was on most of the paperwork and a business card was taped in an obvious place inside.

      He found it himself by going back into the lost & found luggage room 2 weeks after he lost it – it was sitting on a shelf and still had all of the ID and not a thing was missing. The day after he lost it, he was told he wasn’t allowed in the lost & found. When he asked again 2 weeks later it was no problem.

      • Kitamura says:

        Makes you wonder what would have happened if it were a briefcase full of drug money. Would they have held onto it for three months and then donated it to charity?

        It’s really one thing to do it for “low value” items, but you’d think if the airline were to find something of substantial value that they would report it to the authorities.

  7. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    I would be upset if I had lost victorian era heirlooms too.

  8. crispyduck13 says:

    I hope they do rethink their policies. The owner did what she thought was sufficient to try and get her stuff back, the airport really dropped the ball there.

    A little reminder to all the commenters here who feel “no sympathy” for the rich lady (not that she was asking for it) – you better hope the airport you lose your valuables at treats you better than this one did here. “Valuables” are subjective. Her $5000 brooch might be just as valuable to her as my $50 antique wedding necklace is to me or your $100 watch that your deceased father handed down is to you. Does one deserve to get their shit back more than any other based on dollar amount?

    What’s with all the rich hate?

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      Depends. Did the Duchess notify the airline or the police? Did the police enquire at the airport? Are airlines/airports required to advise the police of the contents of all unclaimed baggage?

      The ‘reality’ show Excess Baggage follows baggage auctions at US airports – with people bidding on all sorts of crud and expensive valuables.

      • BeamMeUp says:

        Yes, if you read the article above, she DID report it to the Police.

      • shufflemoomin says:

        Here comes another worldly, travelled American who assumes that their country is so powerful that every country in the World follows the same rules as them. This has nothing to do with US airports, FAA or anything else. Not relevant.

    • falnfenix says:

      What’s with all the rich hate?

      don’t you get it? she’s rich, and she doesn’t have a right to be rich. the people who have a right to it are the people who don’t have it because they’re jealous. or something to that effect.

      frankly, i think it sucks she lost something that meant so much to her. i’ve had it happen and it’s truly heartbreaking. irreplaceable items are irreplaceable, no matter how an individual has acquired those items.

  9. Lackwit says:

    To everyone poo-pooing the nobility, how would you feel if the duchess were blind and someone stole her diamond-encrusted guide-dog harness and as a result she was told to leave an Ann Taylor shop?

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      Oh, POOH! As a fellow highborn I hardly think she would be shopping in Ann Taylor at all — she’d have a personal shopper at her beck and call. If not, she’ll likely be assisted by her humble guide person, and not a dog.


    • BeamMeUp says:

      +1 for linking two fine stories together this week.

  10. VancouverNights says:

    I’m at my local airport every sale I can hit but never suspected for a second that the deals I’m getting could be on things that the owners were trying to get back. I figured that those dropping the found objects off were checking them thoroughly.
    However, I can see with the amount of wedding videos available there, not all cherished things get home…

  11. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:


    (Princess Beech clutches her diamond tiara in mortification)

  12. working class Zer0 says:

    I lost my family jewels 22 years ago, right around the time I got married. I suspect my wife but haven’t found any substantial proof yet.

  13. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “A rep for the BAA says the agency is going to rethink its procedures as a result.”

    You know, for the next time a duchess loses a bag of fine jewelry at their airport.

  14. erinpac says:

    What DOES check with the Art Loss Registry if auction houses don’t?
    I’m more surprised at the auction house than the airport.

  15. Aliciaz777 says:

    I don’t give a crap if she’s wealthy beyond belief or poorer than Kenny from South Park. What the airline did pisses me off. All of you saying “I have no sympathy for her”, put yourselves in her shoes: you lose sentimental items, file the proper reports, then when they’re found the airline sells them. Who cares if the money went to charity? The airline had NO RIGHT to sell them.

  16. goodfellow_puck says:

    Er….68 years old? The current Duchess of Argyll is in her late 30s. I’m guessing the article is referring to the DOWAGER Duchess Iona…the current Duke’s mum?

    Yeah, we don’t all lose tiaras every day, but I think the point is that we’re all likely to lose SOMETHING. If the airport doesn’t give a crap about selling items belonging to royalty, then what luck do the rest of us have?

  17. kobresia says:

    It’s a bag of jewels, Betty. They’re jewels, Betty!

    This story makes me think of that line.

  18. shufflemoomin says:

    I’m sure this happens ALL the time and the airport authority only care because of her status. If you ever see those airport lost property auctions, there’s no way those thousands of suitcases, laptops, phones and god knows what else all belong to people who don’t want them back and don’t care that they’re gone. The airports do next to nothing to help reunite lost property and luggage with travellers. It’s criminal and nothing else.

  19. ckigar says:

    was Sir Francis ‘Piggy’ Beekman involved?

  20. akronharry says:

    I lost my diamond tiara too. Maybe it’s mine.I hope that the British Airports Authority contacts me as soon as they rethink their methods. Mine is easy to spot. It is filled with big diamonds.
    Please send it to me asap.