Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry called for an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the crisis of selling the ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun’s bust in an auction in London, the ministry said in a statement.
The National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation along with officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Interior and the General Prosecution Office will discuss the legal measures to be taken by the Egyptian authorities after the head sculpture of Tutankhamun was sold, the statement said.
A 3,000-year-old head sculpture of an eternally-young Tutankhamun, the Egyptian pharaoh known as King Tut, was sold by UK-based Christie’s auction house for nearly six million U.S. dollars on Thursday, despite Cairo’s calling on the UK government to stop the sale.
Egyptian authorities said the relic was illegally smuggled out of Egypt and is still owned by the country.
“I believe that it was taken out of Egypt illegally,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, adding that “Christie house has not presented any documents to prove otherwise.”
Former Egyptian Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass told state-run Ahram newspaper that the relic was likely “stolen” in the 1970s from the Karnak Temple complex just north of the renowned ancient city of Luxor.
“We think it left Egypt after 1970 because in that time other artifacts were also stolen from Karnak Temple,” Hawass said.
King Tutankhamun, that has been discovered intact with all his treasures in the 1920s by British archeologist Howard Carter, holds a special place in the Egyptian culture.