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Friday, 15 November 2019

Ancient Egyptian statue sells for £16 million in UK despite outcry

The statue had previously been on display at Northampton Museum in the UK

Amer Sultan in London, Friday 11 Jul 2014
Sekhemka
The limestone statue of Egyptian scribe Sekhemka
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A 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue has been sold for just over £15 million at an auction at Christie’s in London, despite the Egyptian government’s outcry and strong criticism inside the UK.

The sculpture, which depicts Sekhemka, inspector of royal scribes, is being sold by Northampton Borough Council. It was originally acquired by the 2nd Marquess of Northampton during his travels in Egypt in 1849-50 and was given to Northampton Museum either by the 3rd or 4th Marquess of Northampton prior to 1880.

The auction was interrupted by some Egyptians who were trying to stop the controversial sale.  During the bidding, the group started shouting inside the auction room.

“You are selling antiquities stolen from Egypt! You will not be allowed to go with it!” shouted one.

Northampton Borough Council, which claims absolute ownership of the statue, plans to use the money to help fund a £14 million extension to Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

However, Arts Council England has warned that if the sale goes through, the museum could lose its accreditation status.

Ashraf El-Kholy, Egypt' s ambassador to the UK, has pledged to challenge the sale which he described as "illegal". "Today's sale is not the end of it," he told Ahram Online.

According to the inscription on the statue’s base, it depicts a man who was inspector of the scribes of the royal court.

Christie’s London’s Director and Head of Antiquities Georgiana Aitken said that Sekhemka ranks as the most important Egyptian sculpture ever to come to market.

"Christie’s is honoured to present it," she added.

Renowned comic book writer Alan Moore has commented that the sale "could only be catastrophic."

He was quoted as saying that the planned sale is "undercutting one of the fundamental principles by which museums acquire artefacts in their collections.”

Moore, from Northampton, added: “I have donated things to the museum. But I would not be able to do that again in the knowledge that at some point in the future that gifts, made in good faith, could be sold off by a council."

Some reports say by putting the invaluable statue on sale, Northampton Borough Council violated the terms of gifting agreement between the Marquess of Northampton and Northampton Museum.

Christie’s and the council insist the sale is legal.

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Siobhàn
11-07-2014 11:53am
20-
2+
theft
I have seen many museums throughout the UK & all of them have one thing in common. They tend to label the item (statue, etc) by the 'finders' than by what it should be; the item itself. Giving full credit to the 'finders' than to the ancient people themselves.
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medo
11-07-2014 05:58pm
2-
10+
@siobhan
This is the same UK that provides most of it's museums for free?? The same places where you DO NOT HAVE TO PAY to see some of the most amazing things on display in the world... And you title comment "Theft" Where is the theft?? These places need to be funded... why not sell a piece or two if they don't need them?? Or maybe we should pack them solid like Cairo Museum??? That has so so much stuff it is just boring after an hour. We need to understand in ALL parts of our life, sometimes "less is more"
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