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Christie's Thinks This Is Worth $5M. Egypt Thinks It's Stolen

A tussle over a Tutankhamun statue
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2019 1:54 PM CDT
The statue is set to be auctioned July 4.   (Christie's)

(Newser) – Last Monday Christie's let the world know that it planned to auction an Egyptian brown quartzite head of King Tut as the god of sun and air, Amun. It expected it to go for more than $5 million in the July 4 sale. Egyptian officials are now trying to put a halt to it, saying they believe the statue might have been stolen from the Karnak temple complex in Luxor and smuggled out of the country. They want Christie's to provide them with a paper trail showing it legally left Egypt. The Guardian has a quote from a Christie's rep, who argued that "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."

Per the auction listing, it was part of Prinz Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis' collection in the '60s, and then passed to a series of Austrian and German dealers and has been part of the private German Resandro collection since 1985. ABC News reports the head of Egypt's repatriation department said in a statement last week that Egypt "will take a legal action with the Interpol" if it determines the statue didn't leave legally. The Financial Times notes that the hefty estimated price tag of the item stems from the fact that Tut statues rarely come up for auction; most are now part of museum collections. (The Met has given up a prized Egyptian artifact.)

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