The true value of art and antiques stolen from property tycoon Harry Hyams's country mansion is believed to be £50 million higher than was first estimated, it emerged yesterday.
The haul was initially thought to be around £30 million, but The Art Newspaper has reported that £80 million, an estimate for insurance purposes, is closer to the mark.
If so, the heist at Ramsbury Manor in Wiltshire is the biggest theft in British history.
It leaves the £53 million cash robbery of the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent, in the shade.
The full value of the Hyams haul has become clear after investigations by police and art experts. Thieves entered his estate in 4x4s overnight on February 1, stealing more than 300 museum-grade items from his mansion.
On March 25 around 140 items in the Hyams haul were recovered from an underground bunker at Black Hill, near Stratford-upon-Avon. Some of the pieces were badly damaged. Detectives had predicted that some of the stolen items, difficult to shift because they are instantly recognisable to experts, may end up being destroyed or dumped.
Reclusive Hyams, aged 78, has been collecting rare works for 50 years. Despite the large number of items still missing, they are said to be a small dent in Hyams' vast collection. At least 200 works, including paintings, silver, clocks, barometers and porcelain, are still missing.
In this year's Sunday Times Rich List, published yesterday, Hyams fell from his 2005 standing of 155th to 204th, owing to his recent misfortune.
With his estate intact, he is worth around £320 million. Hyams famously built Centre Point in London.