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Egyptian-British parliamentary group condemns Christie's sale of Egyptian antiquities

Ahram Online , Friday 5 Jul 2019
A camera crew films Egyptian brown quartzite head of Tutankhamun at Christie's in London, Britain, July 4, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

The Egyptian- British parliamentary group issued a statement on Friday condemning Christie's auction house for the sale of stolen Egyptian artefacts, including the head of King Tutankhamun in London despite outcry from the Egyptian authorities and international condemnations.

King Tutankhamun’s head was sold in the auction at £ 4.7 million on Thursday.

“The sale of Egyptian artefacts violates international conventions of UNESCO which prohibit the illicit import, export or transfer of ownership of cultural property, and which also allow Egypt to recover illegally smuggled artefacts that are registered in international museums,” the statement read.

The statement pointed out that the commencement of the auction, despite all the procedures taken by the Egyptian authorities, violates all international conventions, treaties, and agreements due to the lack of ownership documents from the auction house.

The Egyptian-British parliamentary group expressed its great appreciation to the countries that cooperated with Egypt to retrieve many of the stolen Egyptian antiquities abroad. The statement revealed that Egypt managed to recover 1,100 artefacts in 2016 and 2017 from 20 countries.

“The Group deplores the silence of UNESCO towards this repeated crime in a manner that casts doubt over the credibility of the international organization,” the statement added.

“It was surprising that the British government demanded that Egypt prove that artefacts such as the head of King Tutankhamun is Egyptian, requiring the owner, not the one who stole, to prove ownership,” the statement said.

The Egyptian-British group called on the Egyptian government to review its cooperation with British archeological missions operating in Egypt, calling on the British government to cooperate to stop the illegal sale of antiquities.

On Wednesday, Egypt’s ministries of antiquities and foreign affairs issued a joint statement condemning Christie's auction house move.

Earlier last month when the auction catalogue was published, both Egyptian ministries of antiquities and foreign Affairs called on Christie’s and UNESCO to stop the sale of the quartzite head, which belongs to Tutankhamun along with other 31 ancient Egyptian objects.

Both ministries have also asked Christie's to provide ownership documents, however the auction house has yet to show these documents.



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