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Egypt Condemns Planned Sale of Pharaoh Statue Head

Egypt on Wednesday condemned a planned London auction by Christie’s of a head from a statue of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, which is set to proceed despite Cairo’s concerns over paperwork.

Egypt’s ambassador to the UK “regrets that the auction house intends to conduct a new sale involving Egyptian artefacts tomorrow (Thursday), including the head of Tutankhamun, without the backing of papers”, said a joint statement by its foreign and antiquities ministries late Wednesday.

“The auction house still has not furnished the papers with Egyptian authorities”, the statement added.

Christie’s expects the 28.5-centimetre (11-inch) brown quartzite relic from the Valley of the Kings to fetch more than £4 million ($5.1 million, 4.5 million euros).

The Egyptian statement said auctions of other ancient Egyptian items had taken place earlier on Wednesday, despite “legitimate Egyptian requests in recent weeks” centring on sales certificates.

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The sales are “in contradiction with international agreements and conventions”, the statement said.

The pharaoh’s finely-chiselled head — its serene eyes and puffed lips emoting a sense of eternal peace — comes from the private Resandro Collection of ancient art that Christie’s last sold in 2016 for £3 million.

“We would not offer for sale any object where there was concern over ownership or export,” Christie’s said in a recent statement released to AFP, noting that the Egyptian embassy had been notified in advance of the planned sale.

The French-owned British auction house explained that the current lot was acquired by Resandro from a Munich-based dealer in 1985.

It traces its prior origins to the 1973-74 acquisition by another dealer in Austria from the Princely House of Thurn and Taxis in modern-day Germany.

But little is known to the public about how the statue found its way to Europe.

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