CAIRO – A 3,000-year-old bust of Egypt's boy king Tutankhamen was auctioned off Thursday in London for nearly $ 6 million, despite claims by the Egyptian government that it was plundered and smuggled out of the country.
The controversial sale of Christie's auction house came one day after Egypt's Foreign Ministry and its antique ministry issued a joint statement condemning the company to proceed with the sale.
The sale, they said, is not valid because the auction house has not been able to verify the ownership of the 11-inch brown quartersite statue of Pharaoh, widely spoken around the world as King Tut.
Christie said in a statement that the statue had never been the subject of an investigation and that it would never have sold it if there were legitimate concerns. Egypt said the company did not express concern as the chest was publicly exhibited for several years, or when it was part of a private collection that last sold $ 3.7 million in 2016.
"We recognize that historical objects can Raise complex discussions on the past, but our role today is to work to continue to create a transparent and legitimate marketplace that maintains the highest standards of item transfer, "the auction house said.
Christie s does not release the name of the buyer.
Egypt's demand to cancel the auction and the statue returned to its own valued collection of artifacts from Tutankhamen's tomb coming as the country is trying to revive its tourist industry, a significant source of employment and foreign currency. Political instability after the country's Arab Spring Rebellion, which excluded the long-standing autocrat Hosni Mubarak and a recent spread of terrorist attacks, has discouraged many tourists.
Egyptian authorities said the statue was probably stolen in the 1970s from the Karnak temple in the Egyptian city of Luxor, near the tomb of the boy's king in the King's Valley. In the early 1980s, Egypt introduced legislation to prevent the removal of ancient artifacts from the country.
Christie says it is able to track the ownership of the chest during the last five decades, starting when the chest was acquired from German aristocrat Prince Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis between 1973 and 1974. Egypt says the auction house have not shown documents proving ownership.
"If Tutankhamen's head were to be put up tonight at auction, it would be a dark day in Christie's history," said Zahi Hawass, former Egyptian Antique Dealer, the time-critical Al Ahram newspaper hours before the sale. 19659012] Tutankhamen became Pharaoh at age 9 and ruled until his death at 19, believed to be about 1323 B.C. His remains were excavated in 1922 along with thousands of ancient artifacts, including a gold mask of the king, which so far is the most significant and well-known archaeological finds in Egypt.