UK Airport Auctions Off $150,000 in Jewelry Instead of Returning It

Meet the Scottish duchess with the worst lost luggage story ever.

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David Cheskin / AP

Glasgow International Airport

In 2006, the Duchess of Argyll lost a bag containing more than $150,000 worth of jewelry at Glasgow Airport after returning home from a jaunt in London. Among the items lost included a diamond tiara, a Cartier brooch, and emerald ring and pearl earrings. She filed a complaint with the British Airports Authority (BAA) and the police, but it now appears that when the items resurfaced a couple of months later, the BAA auctioned the items off instead of contacting her.

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By sheer luck the duchess spotted the missing brooch in a Scottish auction catalogue earlier this year.  Airport authorities had apparently unloaded the jewelry to a diamond merchant who paid just $7,500 for the entire haul (proceeds that were then donated to charity, as is customary for items that go unclaimed after a certain amount of time). The whereabouts of the ring and earrings are still unknown, however.

After discovering what happened, airport authorities are now offering to reimburse the diamond merchant in an effort to reunite the missing jewels with its rightful owner. According to airport authorities, its not clear what exactly happened because the documents related to the matter are no longer on hand. “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,” a spokesman commented.

The Duchess told the Telegraph:

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.

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Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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