Egypt threatens legal action to stop UK museum selling ancient statue
The sale of the Sekhemka statue of a priest is due to take place at a Christie’s auction in London on Thursday
Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damati has urged the Egyptian embassy in London to take legal measures to halt the sale of a 4,000-year-old statue by Northampton Borough Council, Egyptian daily Al-Masry al-Youm reported Tuesday.
Damati has collected petition signatures from Egypt, the UK, Belgium and Canada, and has called on the International Council of Museums to intervene.
The sale of the Sekhemka statue of a priest is due to take place at a Christie’s auction in London on Thursday.
Damati denounced the move by Northampton Museum, saying it was against the “values of museums worldwide.”
However, Northampton Borough Council said Egypt had no claim to the statue, and the sale would go ahead.
“We contacted the Egyptian government two years ago regarding our plans to sell Sekhemka,” a council spokesman told the BBC.
“According to Unesco’s 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, Egypt has no right to claim the recovery of the statue,” he said.
“The statue left Egypt before this convention was put in place, and this was confirmed by the Egyptian government on 15 June,” he added.
Lord Northampton’s family donated the statue to the museum more than 100 years ago. It has been attracting tourists ever since.