Oscar Wilde friendship ring taken in Hatton Garden heist found


Oscar Wilde friendship ring found after Hatton Garden heist

A golden friendship ring that was given to a friend by Oscar Wilde has finally been found almost 20 years later. Whilst not confirmed,  it was widely believed to have been stolen as part of the large loot that was taken in the jewellery heist at Hatton Garden.


What was the Oscar Wilde friendship ring?

Shaped like a belt and buckle, this 18-carat friendship ring was taken from Magdalen College back in 2002. Wilde was a student at the time at Oxford University when he gave the ring to William Ward back in 1876.


What was the value of the Oscar Wilde friendship ring?

The ring given by Oscar Wilde during his student years was estimated to be worth £35,000 at the time it was stolen.

For many years after, its whereabouts remained completely unknown. After some time, it was thought that the friendship ring had been melted down never to be seen again.


The Oscar Wilde ring and the Hatton Garden heist

A Dutch art detective, Arthur Brand, strongly believed that the ring had been taken in the Hatton Garden jewellery raid in 2015. Talking at the time of the heist, Brand said that there were ‘very strong indications’ it had been stolen in the heist. These rumours circulated for weeks after the robbery had taken place.

These rumours first surfaced on the art market after talk of a Victorian ring being sold with ‘Russian writing on it’ had started to circulate, piquing the art detective’s curiosity. Brand then decided to start investigating.


What was the Hatton Garden heist?

The Hatton Garden heist saw high-value items of jewellery being stolen valued at around £14 million in total. it was the largest burglary ever to take place in English legal history.

Taking place during the Easter weekend of 2015, four elderly robbers planned and raided an underground safe deposit facility at the capital’s jewellery district. In total, six experienced thieves were jailed for the raid in March 2016.


The art detectives’ investigation for the ring

Mr. Brand, having heard the rumours that the ring was in circulation decided to try and track it down. He is also widely known as being the ‘Indiana Jones of the Art World’ thanks to his success in recovering a number of high-profile stolen artworks.

The art detective achieved this by contacting London-based antiques dealer William Veres and George Crump. The latter is considered to have a reasonable amount of knowledge of the criminal underworld. He is thought to have links to the East London gangsters, the Kray twins. The infamous twins were jailed back in the 1960s.

The friendship ring that was returned to Magdalen College in December 2019.

Through the help of a mediator, it was discovered through Mr. Crump that the Oscar Wilde ring had been purchased in 2015. Crump was able to track down the buyer.

It turned out that the buyer of the friendship was completely unaware of the history the ring had and was horrified that the ring was in fact stolen.

The buyer of the ring offered to return it after hearing the news. The meditator met the art detective and returned the ring to Mr. Brand outside the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company in October 2019.


Oscar Wilde ring returned to Magdalen College

The Oscar Wilde ring was returned to Oxford University on December 4th, 2019.

Having strongly believed that the ring would never be returned to them, those at Magdalen College were delighted to have it back. It is thought the friendship ring first came into Magdalen College’s possession after letters that were written by William Ward were donated to them at the end of the 19th century.

The ring forms an important part of the College’s large collection of Wilde memorabilia, who was the author of classics including ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’.