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Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry Resorts to Judiciary to Return Tutankhamun Statue

Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry Resorts to Judiciary to Return Tutankhamun Statue

Friday, 14 June, 2019 - 07:30
Cairo - Fathiya al-Dakhakhni

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has requested Egypt's chief prosecutor to take legal action to stop the sale of 32 Egyptian artifacts in an auction in London.

"The ministry's Antiquities Repatriation Department found the artifacts in the highlights of Christie's auction house in the British capital London to be sold in an auction on July 3-4," it said in a statement on Thursday.

The artifacts include a 3,000-year-old bust of famous Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Christie’s plan to sell the bust as part of the private Resandro collection. Other items include marble heads dating from ancient Rome, a painted wooden Egyptian coffin, and a bronze Egyptian cat statue.

They hope to raise £4 million from the auction, and insist that it is being sold legitimately.

“Ancient objects by their nature cannot be traced over millennia,” a spokeswoman for Christie’s said in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Christie’s strictly adheres to bilateral treaties and international laws with respect to cultural property and patrimony," said the statement.

“We would not offer for sale any object where there was concern over ownership or export.”

"The work has been widely exhibited and published and we have alerted the Egyptian Embassy so they are aware of the sale,” said Christie’s.

“There is a long-standing and legitimate market for works of art of the ancient world, in which Christie’s has participated for generations.”

Egyptian artifacts expert Dr. Bassam al-Shammaa told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Antiquities Ministry should be hailed if it succeeded in stopping the sale of the artifacts.

“If it were able to return the statue, then there should be a huge celebration,” he said.

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