Police said two Ming dynasty vases and a cup were stolen in 2019 from the Museum of Far Eastern Arts in Geneva. The 15th-century artefacts were valued at around 3 million pounds (US$3.8 million.)
Authorities shared DNA found at the scene on an international database which linked it to Stewart Ahearne, who was living in southeast London. He had hired a car ahead of the theft and used it to drive the stolen goods back to the UK, police said.
Detectives posing as art buyers then arranged to meet the suspects in a London hotel to “buy” a vase for 450,000 pounds (US$570,000). The Ahearnes were arrested after the undercover operation and extradited to Switzerland, where they pleaded guilty on Monday.
“The Ahearne brothers meticulously planned this burglary, carrying out careful reconnaissance to ensure they could make a clean getaway and bring the items back to the UK,” said detective chief inspector Matt Webb.
Three other men involved in the attempted sale of one of the stolen vases were separately sentenced for possession of criminal property.
Police said a Ming dynasty wine cup featuring paintings of chickens remains missing.
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