Khaled al-Anani, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities said on record that Egypt’s heritage is that of humanity when speaking of le Louvre’s exposition of Tutankhamun. However, this does not mean that Egypt is not actively pursuing its lost Pharaonic artworks, the latest of which is the bust of the aforementioned Tutankhamun.
Egyptian Museum of Turin (Italy)
Having recently discovered a new queen Pharaoh (who turned out to be Tutankhamun’s sister), Egypt wants Tutankhamun’s bust back. Ascended to the throne around 1333 BC, Tutankhamun is probably the most famous pharaoh in history. His carved bust was sold for nearly 5.3 million euros. On Monday, July 8th, Egypt has asked Interpol to locate a carved portrait of Tutankhamun dating back three thousand years.
The auction house Christie’s had sold on July 4th, against the advice of Cairo, this head 28.5 centimeters high to an unknown buyer, during one of the most controversial sales in recent years. Amount of the purchase: nearly 4.7 million pounds, or 5.3 million euros.
Less than a week later, the Egyptian National Committee for the Repatriation of Antiquities (ENCRA) met urgently and declared that the Egyptian Public Prosecutor’s Office has asked the International Criminal Police Organization to issue a notice to locate the quartzite head because of the lack of necessary documents at the time of the sale.
Former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities asks Germany to return Nefertiti
The bust depicting the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton, one of the masterpieces of the collections of the Neues Museum in Berlin, would be kept “illegally” according to the Egyptologist Zahi Hawass. He demanded his restitution in order to be presented during the inauguration of the new Egyptian Museum of Cairo, planned in 2020.
The story of the bust of Nefertiti dates back to 1912, when a German archaeological mission, headed by the Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt, went to Cairo to sign a contract with the Egyptian government giving Germany the right to acquire some artifacts found in the vicinity of Tell el-Amarna, the capital built during the reign of Akhenaton (circa 1371-1338 BC).
Among the treasures transferred by this mission, was the bust of the wife of the pharaoh builder. Since then, the sculpture has become a cultural symbol of Berlin and regularly triggers controversies between German and Egyptian cultural leaders.
The New York Met returns a stolen sarcophagus to Egypt
One of the most prestigious museums in the world, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, returned to Egypt a sarcophagus that was probably stolen in 2011 during the revolutionary tumult in the country. The richly decorated sarcophagus dating from the 1st century BC J-C has in fact “been stolen in Egypt in 2011,” said the museum in a statement.
The Met handed it over to the Manhattan Attorney’s Office, who in turn returned it to the Egyptian government. Museum officials, quoted by the New York Times, said the sarcophagus was acquired in 2017 for about four million dollars (3.5 million euros) from an art dealer in Paris.