London (CNN)A small British auction house has withdrawn from sale a rare Maori cloak which apparently once belonged to a tribal chief, after receiving online intimidation and insults.
Rare Maori cloak pulled from auction after online threats and abuse
Burstow & Hewett, in the Sussex town of Battle, were subject to "the worst kind of threats," which they eventually reported to the police, according to managing partner Mark Ellin.
The firm and their clients who own the cloak -- traditionally referred to as a kakahu -- were subjected to a "barrage" of angry responses after a piece about the historic artifact aired on New Zealand TV last month.
Steve and Mary Squires discovered the garment -- made from hand-woven flax and cotton with a dyed geometric border -- at the back of a cupboard last year, where it had stayed folded for "at least 100 years," according to Mary. As such, its bright colors are almost as good as new.
What made it even more special was an attached handwritten note, which read: "Maori mat worn by the Chief Rewi when peace was declared between Maoris and Europeans after the Battle of Orakau," according to a press release from Burstow & Hewett.
The couple described how they researched the family history and stumbled across a Thomas Grice, who was recorded as spending time with Chief Rewi in the years after the Maori wars, between 1845 and 1872.
Meanwhile, photographs of the chief from around 1879 depict him wearing a very similar cloak, according to the release. Amazed by the story, the auctioneers welcomed the TV crew to their premises.