Egypt Calls in Interpol to Reclaim 3,000-Year-Old Tutankhamun Artefact

Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Egypt Calls in Interpol to Reclaim 3,000-Year-Old Tutankhamun Artefact

The hunt is on for an ancient Tutankhamun artefact, that could have been stolen in the 1970s, after it was sold in London for $6 million. Less than a week after the 3,000-year-old artefact was sold at Christie's auction house in London, Egypt's National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) asked Interpol to 'issue a circular to trace' it.

Image: The 3,000-year-old 11-inch 'Boy King' Tutankhamen artefact

 

The hunt is on for an ancient Tutankhamun artefact, that could have been stolen in the 1970s, after it was sold in London for $6 million.

Less than a week after the 3,000-year-old artefact was sold at Christie's auction house in London, Egypt's National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) asked Interpol to 'issue a circular to trace' it.

 

The 3,000-year-old 11-inch 'Boy King' Tutankhamen artefact

 

It has been alleged the relic is missing paperwork — which means it may have been stolen from the Karnak Temple complex just north of Luxor in the 1970s.

The 11-inch 'Boy King' statue was sold for £4,746,250 ($5,970,000 or €5,290,000) to an unknown buyer in early July.

Less than a week after the 3,000-year-old quartz artefact (pictured) was sold at Christie's auction house in London, Egypt's National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) asked Interpol to 'issue a circular to trace' it

The NCAR — headed by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany — also called upon Britain to 'prohibit the export of the sold artefacts' until Egyptian authorities were shown the documents.

'The committee expresses its deep discontent of the unprofessional behaviour of the sale of Egyptian antiquities without providing the ownership documents and the evidences that prove its legal export from Egypt,' the NCAR said in a statement. 

It went on to mention 'the ongoing cooperation between both countries in the field of archaeology, especially that there are 18 British archaeological missions working in Egypt', suggesting the issue could have an impact on cultural relations.

The NCAR added it had hired a British law firm to file a 'civil lawsuit' although no further details were given. 

Tutankhamun is thought to have become a pharaoh at the age of nine and to have died about ten years later

The sale of the head of 'Boy King' Tutankhamun angered Egyptian officials at the time and sparked a protest outside Christie's by about a dozen people who held up signs reading 'stop trading in smuggled antiquities'.

The Egyptian foreign ministry asked the UK Foreign Office and the UN cultural body UNESCO to step in and halt the sale.

But such interventions are rare and made only when there is clear evidence of the item's legitimate acquisition by the seller being in dispute.

Christie's argued that Egypt had never before expressed the same level of concern about an item whose existence has been 'well known and exhibited publicly' for many years.

'The object is not, and has not been, the subject of an investigation,' Christie's said in a statement.

The auction house has published a chronology of how the relic changed hands between European art dealers over the past 50 years and told AFP that it would 'not sell any work where there isn't clear title of ownership'.

 

 

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