The Egyptian Ministry Foreign Affairs and Antiquities has ordered UK authorities and UN officials to stop the anticipated million-dollar auction of an 11-inch statue of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in London.
The Egyptians called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the UK in hopes of halting the upcoming July 4 Christie’s auction of a 3,000-year-old brown quartzite statue of Amun, the God of the Sun and Air.
Christie’s, which has yet to take down its listing, estimates the piece will fetch over $5 million in auction. Egypt, however, asserts the King Tut bust should not have made it to the house, as the artifact may have been stolen from from Luxor’s Karnak Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Egyptian Embassy in London also contacted the British Foreign Office and the auction house to halt the sale and reserve the bust, demanding its return to Egypt.
The statue, which is noticeably missing Tutankhamun’s false beard and part of his nose, is thought to be a fragment of a larger statue which depicted the young ruler in a seated position.
The 1983 Egyptian Law on the Protection of Antiquities notes “all antiquities are strictly regulated and considered to be the property of the State” and any trade of said antiquities is prohibited.
However, Article 8 of the legislation notes that exceptions are made for “antiquities whose ownership or possession was already established at the time this law came into effect.”
According to the statue’s lot on Christie’s website, the King Tut bust was part of “the collection of Prinz Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis (1919-2004) by the 1960’s,” and eventually made it to Germany as part of The Resandro collection in 1985 before being set for its July 4 auction date.
Sputnik / AB Canada Flash Point Antiquity News 2019.