The Duchess of Argyll lost five pieces of jewellery at Glasgow airport in 2006. They were worth £100,000 between them, and included a diamond tiara. She reported the loss to the police and the Art Loss Register, but over the intervening years lost hope of ever seeing them again.
That was until the day she saw the tiara and a brooch being sold off in an auction catalogue.
ShockedThe Duchess told The Independent: "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."
What happened?According to the newspaper, the two items had been handed into lost property at the airport a few months after going missing. The airport's owner sold them onto a diamond trader for less than £5,000 - with the proceeds going to charity.
Years later the Victorian tiara and Cartier brooch showed up in a sale for auction house Lyon and Turnbull. The jewellery has since been returned to its rightful owner, and BAA has paid a sum to compensate the trader.
Lost propertyA spokesman for Glasgow Airport told AOL: "When the incident happened in 2006 we operated a manual process. We are required to inform police of this sort of lost property and that didn't happen. In 2007 we recognised that the process needed to be reviewed, and now we run a system managed by a third party and monitored by Airport and Strathclyde Police to ensure an incident like this couldn't happen. Now, if someone was to report a theft, the police could check the system and be able to tell immediately if it had been handed in at the airport."
It seems impossible that a tiara could show up in lost property and not create a stir. However, far weirder things have shown up at lost property departments over the years. TfL finds over 184,000 pieces of lost property each year on buses, tubes, taxis, trains, trams and stations. Among the more unusual that have shown up over the years are: a handbag containing an invitation to William and Kate's wedding, Rolex watches worth more than quarter of a million pounds, £10,000 cash, human skulls, breast implants and a lawnmower.