Tutankhamun bust - Christie's Auction House
Tutankhamun bust - Christie's Auction House

Egyptian officials angered as Tutankhamun bust put on auction Thursday

Thu, Jul. 4, 2019
CAIRO - 4 July 2019: Head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri said that the National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation held a meeting after making sure that an Egyptian Tutankhamun bust is up for sale in an auction in the UK.

A letter was sent to the UK Central Authority, Waziri said, adding in an interview with Ahmed Moussa on Sada El-Balad, that the UK "has failed us" as it continued to organize the exhibition where the bust would be sold, despite all procedures taken by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and the UNESCO.

Waziri said that "Egypt will continue to pursue those involved and any party that buys Egyptian antiquities," thanking Italy, Spain, France and the United States for returning smuggled artifacts to Egypt.

It is probable that Egypt takes measures against the British archaeological envoys working in Egypt, Waziri said. He added that London "has violated the international agreements in this regard after its negative stance towards the sale of the Egyptian artifacts.

Egypt's Ambassador to the UK Tarek Adel said that the auction was not postponed despite the objections and legal remarks raised by Egypt regarding the legality of the circulation of the Egyptian pieces displayed in the hall. He added that the embassy has informed the auction hall that will hold the auction, referring to Christie's,

The hall is set to proceed with a second auction on Thursday to display more Egyptian artifacts, including the head of a small Egyptian bust of King Tutankhamun, for sale despite calls to postpone it to give time to check the authenticity of the documents proving that these artifacts were transferred from Egypt in a legal way.

He stressed that the Egyptian Embassy in London will continue to follow up its efforts and procedures in coordination with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities to stop the sale of the pieces that are part of the Egyptian cultural heritage.

A 3,000-year-old stone statue bearing the features of the most famous ancient Egyptian king Tutankhamun is expected to be auctioned at £4 million in Christie’s auction London on July 4.

Tutankhamun bust shows the golden king with almond-shaped eyes and drooping lower lip; it shows Tutankhamun as Amun, the most important god of the era.

It is the first time that a piece owned by a private collector has appeared on the open market since 1985. Christie’s experts believe that king Tut's bust was located in the past at the Temple of Karnak in Upper Egypt.

Tutankhamun’s statues very rarely appear on the market, because most of them are shown in museums.

It is not known when and where the Tutankhamun head was found; most probably it goes back to the 1960s. It subsequently passed through the hands of dealers until bought by the current owners in 1985.

Christie’s said it was in continuous contact with the Egyptian authorities about its planned sales of antiquities, adding that it would send details of the head and other artifacts in the sale to the authorities on publication of the sale catalogue this week.

Tutankhamun was born in the 18th Dynasty around 1341 B.C. and was the 12th pharaoh of that period. Tutankhamun did not accomplish much himself; he was placed on the throne when he was a child, and Egypt’s prosperous era was beginning to decline with the rise of Pharaoh Akhenaten and his new cult.


Additional reporting by Angy Essam
 
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