Image of V&A by Matt From London
So instead of a stapler and some envelopes, the information obtained from the archives by a national newspaper (under the Freedom of Information act) shows that Nevin had taken home jade figurines, silver ink pots, Japanese sword guards, original drawings, illustrations torn from books and antique tapestries. His wife apparently used a 19th century Italian leather and tortoiseshell bag for her grocery shopping, their bathroom curtains were cut from a rare cloth and things made their way home with Nevin inside vacuum cleaner bags, up chimneys and even dismantled and stuffed down his trousers. He took apart a table, put it down his pants and walked out with it - that surely beats even the most daring collection of highlighter pens ever smuggled out of an office building in a handbag.
Nevin was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison, giving only irresistible attraction to the objects as reason for taking them from the museum. We can only hope that most of the objects went back behind glass as he went behind bars; our next trip to the V&A will involve in depth analysis of all objects for signs of use in a 1950s household, with special attention paid to anything looking like bathroom curtains.