Egyptian statue sells for $33.5m despite objections

This article is more than 12 months old

A 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue was sold for £15.76 million (S$33.5m) on Thursday when it went under the hammer at Christie's auction house in London.

The sale surpassed the estimated price of £6 million, and went through despite objections from the Egyptian government.

The 2,700BC statue is of Sekhemka, the inspector of the scribes at the royal court, according to an inscription at the base of the statue​It was discovered in the burial city of Saqqara near Cairo, reported The Independent.​

The statue, which was donated in 1880 by the fourth Marques of Northampton, had been on display at a museum in Northampton before it was put in storage four years ago.

Northampton Borough Council auctioned the limestone statue on Thursday to help fund an extension to the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, reported BBC News.

The council will get around £8 million, while the current Lord Northampton will get around £6 million. The remaining £1.6 million is the buyer's premium, reported The Guardian.

Stop the sale

Egypt has been vehemently opposed to the sale. The country's antiquities minister Mamdouh el-Damaty had asked the International Council of Museums to stop the sale, which he said “breaches all museum ethics”, reported Northampton Herald & Post.

BBC News reported that the Egyptian ambassador to Britain said the council should have handed the statue back if it did not want it.

Some locals had banded together to try and stop the sale, but were unsuccessful in their attempts.

After the sale went through, Ms Sue Edwards from the Save Sekhemka Group, said it was “the blackest day in Northampton’s cultural history ever” and the town had been “shamed across the world”, reported Northampton Chronicle & Echo.

Sources: The Independent. BBC News, The Guardian, Northampton Herald & Post, Northampton Chronicle & Echo

Museums & GalleriesantiquitiesUncategorisedauctionmiddle eastNorthampton