Egypt Demands Christie’s Halt Auction of King Tut Statue

Elias Hubbard
June 12, 2019

In a Tuesday statement, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Antiquities 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 in which Egypt's Pharaoh Tutankhamun is reimagined as Amun, the god of the sun and air.

The brown quartzite head of the pharaoh - measuring 11 inches - provides an 'exceptional representation of the King, ' according to the auction house, and will go on sale at St James's on July 4.

"The facial features - the full mouth with slightly drooping lower lips, and almond-shaped, slanted eyes, with a deep depression between the eyes and eyebrows - are those of Tutankhamen", said a press release by Christie's.

Christie's said they gave advanced warning to the Egyptian authorities and retorted that ancient works could not be traced over millennia.

Tutankhamun became the world's most famous pharaoh when his almost intact tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter in Luxor and received worldwide press coverage. The site was packed with the glittering wealth of the 18th Dynasty, which ruled from 1569 to 1315 B.C., and yielded some of Egypt's most famous treasures.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement late on Monday saying Egypt demands the auction house provide documents proving the artifact's ownership.

He said he believes that the head belongs to King Tut, but it was not found in the tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Christie's said the piece was acquired from Heinz Herzer, a Munich-based dealer in 1985. 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".

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. Waziri said that in the past two years thousands of artifacts smuggled or taken out of Egypt illegally have been repatriated.

Christie's says that the sale is legal.

It said it expected the sale, from the Resandro Collection - one of the world's "most renowned private collections of Egyptian art" - to fetch more than four million pounds (4.5 million euros, $5.1 million).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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