Egypt has the right to demand the repatriation of a stone sculpture of King Tutankhamun before it goes up for auction at Christie's in London next month, according to the country’s former antiquities chief.
Egypt can demand return of King Tut statue going up for auction: Former antiquities chief
STEPANAKERT, JUNE 10, ARTSAKHPRESS: Zahi Hawass, a renowned Egyptian archaeologist, has spearheaded numerous campaigns to repatriate Egyptian artifacts, and alleges the statue was stolen.
"It seems that this sculpture was looted from [Luxor's] Karnak Temple. Christie's would not have any proof whatsoever of its ownership,” Hawass told ABC News.
Christie’s responded to ABC News, saying, "Ancient objects by their nature cannot be traced over millennia. It is hugely important to establish recent ownership and legal right to sell which we have clearly done."
A 3,000-year-old bust of the famous boy king, who ruled Egypt from 1332 to 1323 B.C., is scheduled to be sold on July 4.
The quartzite statue, which portrays the boy king as Amun, the ancient Egyptian god of the sun and air, could generate at least 4 million pounds (more than $5 million), according to the auction house. Christie's is in contact with Egyptian authorities over the sale, the Financial Times reported.
The Egyptian Ministry of State Antiquities has launched an investigation into the planned sale to take "the required legal measures in coordination with the foreign ministry,” Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, head of the repatriation department, said in a statement last week.
"If it's proven that any piece has been illegally moved out of the country, we will take a legal action with the Interpol,” he wrote. “We will never allow anyone to sell any ancient Egyptian artifact."
The statue is expected to be sold by a private collector, and is part of what is known as the Resandro Collection, according to the Financial Times.